As the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) marked its 50th anniversary on Tuesday, Barbados took a step towards making it a bit less expensive for nationals of the grouping’s member states to travel here.
The Lower House of Parliament passed the Airport Service Charge (Amendment) Bill, 2023 to amend the Airport Service Charge for regional travel from US$35 to US$20 from July 1 to December 14, this year, in keeping with a decision announced by Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport Ian Gooding-Edghill, who led off debate in the House of Assembly, said the reduction in the charge “is essentially designed to boost travel from within the CARICOM area to Barbados”.
“We felt it was absolutely necessary, based on the estimates coming out of IATA [International Air Transport Association] that over $1 billion would be paid by airlines to stakeholders annually. We felt that this was an opportunity for us to stimulate the Caribbean travel market. We recognise that we have to stimulate the local market,” he said as he introduced the bill.
Minister Gooding-Edghill added that while the significantly reduced operations of regional airline LIAT had impacted visitor numbers from the Caribbean to Barbados, the Government was confident the reduction in the Airport Service Charge would stimulate travel within the region.
“It is known that a visitor from the CARICOM area would come to Barbados and spend approximately six to seven days. And if you calculate that based on the room nights and the cost of the room night – let’s assume that you are paying $150 or less per day – you can imagine the yield that we would earn as a result of the increased traffic to Barbados. So we have taken that decision
“We recognise that the Caribbean market is price sensitive and we recognise that if we are going to drive traffic to the destination in the absence of having what was LIAT in its former form, then we had to take the necessary steps to make the adjustments,” Gooding-Edghill said.
He said the Government would continue to work with airlines in the Caribbean to boost regional travel.
On Monday night, addressing the opening ceremony of the 45th regular meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government underway in Trinidad and Tobago, CARICOM chairman and Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said it is time “to make intra-regional travel a joy rather than a hassle”.
“We are all very aware of the challenges of making air and sea transportation more efficient and affordable, but I dare say, it is for these insistent challenges, that our region looks most to this CARICOM Community for solutions.
“We need now to actively pursue creative and affordable partnerships to deliver on this crucial element of integration in the interest of our people. The movement of people and goods is the backbone of a successful integration arrangement,” he said.