For as long as BU has been around there has been concern expressed about the shamble state of travel in the region. The HoGs are quick to remind us CARICOM/CSME is contingent on free movement of people. To be fair, some progress has been made by amending entry requirements to allow citizens from member states to visit for leisure and work, however, facilitating physical movement whether by air or sea remains a hindrance. The financial weight and mismanagement of LIAT finally caused it to crash. Today the region is without a viable and dependable means of regional transport for people and cargo.
It was interesting to listen to Minister of Tourism uttering words this week about a “high-level- vision for Barbados’ tourism sector with special mention the role of aviation. There is talk about creating a Barbados Aviation Centre of Excellence leading to Barbados being a cargo hub along with repair maintenance and other related activities. The eye opener was when she mentioned of a vision to establish a regional carrier using Singapore Airlines as a model. It goes without saying Barbados will have to push to acquire CAT 1 designation, something BU has posted on for many years. Without CAT 1 designation an airline based in Barbados would not be able to acquire permissions to land in US and other key countries important to flying important air routes.
The blogmaster agrees conceptually Barbados and regional governments must do a better job to smooth the environment to encourage transportation solutions from private sector. With the demise of LIAT it has brought the matter to a head and there must be a sense of urgency IF the HoGs are committed to a working common market. Maybe the leadership of CARICOM lacks the vision to mirror the OECS who has demonstrated the benefits of a working union. It is ironic the OECS are members of umbrella group CARICOM. The attraction of being a big fish in a small pond continues to feed the megalomania of leaders in the region.
In the OECS ferry services have been used as a transportation option for years. Why has the region been unable to enhance the model to include other countries with a view to create a viable sea transportation option? It is 2022 and what can be honestly stated about the state of regional travel?
Here is a perspective from BU family member Artax:
After the demise of the ‘Windward,’ which used to sail between BGI and SLU…… BGI and SVG, ‘every other week,’ there has been several discussions about a ferry service that would include other regional territories.
In 2018, the World Bank recommended a ferry service that would transport people, vehicles and goods from North to the South of the Caribbean, after completing a preliminary study.
The Bank was also recommended private sector participation be sought in developing the ferry service.
In August 2016, the Daily Nation reported ,that a company registered in Barbados called, ‘Caribbean Ferry Service,’ was in the process of finalising paperwork to operate two vessels, ‘The Dream Jet Express’ and ‘The Opal Jet Express,’ for travel and cargo through the region,
The service was supposed to be initially accessible to passengers from BGI, SVG and SLU. And, eventually, other islands would’ve been added to the itinerary.
I can understand ferry services between Antigua and Montserrat; St. Lucia and Martinique; St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius; Dominica and Guadeloupe…… because those islands are in close proximity to each other.
However, I question the viability of operating a service between Barbados and Anguilla, for example. Or, from Trinidad to Jamaica.Artax