ROSEAU: The Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA) is calling for a study to determine the impact of the “crisis” the regional airline, LIAT, is having on the economies of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
The DHTA has written to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, whose administration became the latest shareholder of the cash-strapped Antigua-based airline, indicating that it is concerned at the “large number of flight cancellations, delays and re-routing of flights”.
LIAT, which services more than 20 destinations in the region, has come under severe criticism from the travelling public. But the airline says it is in the process of implementing a multi-million dollar upgrade of its aging fleet and has urged the public to be patient.
In the letter to Skerrit, the hoteliers said that the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and the Economics Division of the OECS Secretariat should be commissioned to research and publish the impact of the LIAT crisis on the ECCU economies.
“Judging from local experience, we are sure that the negative impact of the resulting shock is very significant,” the DHTA letter stated. “Secondly, and commencing without delay, there should be an investigation of the LIAT management’s decisions. Dominica should move assiduously to have consumer protection legislation, with appropriate penalties and enforcement mechanisms, enacted in the countries of the OECS.”
The hoteliers say the response of LIAT management to the crisis so far has “left much to be desired” and that the island had been hard hit by the travel woes “because of its inordinate dependence on LIAT for its arrivals”.
The DHTA said it is concerned that with the upcoming World Creole Music Festival and the Independence celebrations later this year, visitors to the island could experience many hardships in arriving here.
“If LIAT does not get its act together immediately, sufficiently to restore market confidence in the air access infrastructure that we have worked so hard to establish…Dominica will be negatively impacted and the winter peak tourist season will be very badly affected,” the DHTA said in its letter.