President Ramotar to join CARICOM Heads in confronting travel issues

Georgetown, GINA, July 2, 2013

 

Transportation is on the agenda of the Thirty-Fourth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government in Trinidad and Tobago during the period July 4 to 6 which will be attended by President Donald Ramotar.

Cognisant of the challenges intra-regional transportation pose, CARICOM leaders will be paying special focus on transportation matters that emanated during a Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development last May in St Vincent and the Grenadines, a release from the CARICOM Secretariat stated.

Over the three days, the organisation of efficient, reliable, affordable transport services throughout the Community, development and expansion of air and maritime transport capabilities, the promotion of cooperative arrangements for the provision of transport services, efficient internationally competitive ancillary transport services, the development of human resources for employment in all areas and at all levels of the transport sector and the implementation of standards for the development of safe road, riverine, sea and air transport services will be examined.

The performance of LIAT, Suriname Airways and Caribbean Airlines (CAL), the unsustainable operations of startup carriers seeking to ply the regional routes, airfare tickets, high fuel and other costs that pass through to travellers and the lack of alternatives like a regional ferry service have been among the common concerns.

Only recently Guyana’s Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce had opposed what it described as arbitrary increases in airfare ticket prices by CAL in an attempt to rake in profits from high demands in the Guyana markets.

It was pointed out that a 50-minute flight from Guyana to Trinidad and Tobago costs passengers on CAL US$425 but the Trinidad market is being exempt from paying the increases demanded from the Guyanese market.

Acting Minister of Tourism Irfaan Ali had argued that CAL’s position in the Guyana market should have been looked at from a corporate responsibility perspective and not an opportunity to rake in profits.

Earlier, Delta Airlines ended its operations in Guyana on claims of route profitability challenges, an argument which the government disproved.

Guyana like several other CARICOM nations with a promising tourism sector is depending on unhindered travel and has already made approaches to reputable Asian, North and South American airlines in the ongoing effort to broaden the range of commercial air services.

In his message on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of CARICOM, President Ramotar had reminded that the Community’s peoples must be vested with the right to move and conduct business across the region without imposed barriers.

“Heads of Government since the Conference of Heads in Grand Anse, Grenada in 1989, have re-committed to hassle-free movement of people to promote a greater sense of community.

Yet insularity continues to plague our union and poses a threat to what we envisage for our peoples,” President Ramotar said.

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