The announcement that the Charlotte flight will now become a daily non-stop service from December is great news. While the Greater Charlotte area boasts a population of over one million if you include Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia or the NC-SC Metropolitan Area (MSA) that number soars to over 2.52 million people, according to a 2014 census.
Charlotte Duncan International Airport (CLT) opens up so many additional direct connecting cities allowing same day travel for millions more potential travellers, including an incredible reach into the West, mid-West and Northern areas of the United States.
After its merger with US Airways, American Airlines (AA) dominate Charlotte airport carrying over 90 per cent of all passengers which was estimated at more than 32 million last year.
It is the second largest AA hub and ‘third largest on Earth’ according to Vasu Raja, the airlines Vice President for network and schedule planning with 677 daily departures. It is also the carrier’s most profitable hub with the highest gate utilisation within the AA system.
The timings of the flights are also very important with a scheduled departure from Charlotte at 10 am, arriving in Barbados at 3. 30 pm and leaving at 4. 20 pm to reach Charlotte at 8. 25 pm. Personally, I feel there is a psychological advantage to arrive here in day light and being able to dip your feet in the ocean before enjoying a sundown drink.
With the new bank of ‘automated passport kiosks’ at our airport, hopefully the frequent memories of immigration queues stretching out the arrival doors will soon be a thing of the past.
Changing the subject, I applaud the efforts of the Barbados Tourism Product Authority through their full page media ‘ads’ to finally entice and encourage all accommodation offering to register. While it’s a truly daunting task, it just may bring us a step closer to achieve anything close to a level playing field and persuade this massive sub-sector of alternative lodging options to contribute to the marketing and quality control of the destination.
I am not under the illusion that it will be an easy or speedy task to reach all those who qualify and should be meeting the new room tax obligation. At the end of the day, everyone should be reminded that the accommodation providers are not paying this out of their pockets, but it is being extracted as a largely unbudgeted additional expense by our cherished visitors.
I would again urge the authorities to use this golden opportunity of compiling and maintaining an accurate national online database which is accessible to both the public and travel trade. A prerequisite would be the capacity to post proof of current public liability insurance, health, safety and fire certificates and a swimming pool operating licence if this facility is available.
If one of the really honest intentions of this registration is to help protect our ‘iconic’ reputation as a destination, then it is imperative that all can easily access this information in my humble opinion. A small registration fee or a percentage of the room levy could self-fund any cost.