The OECS Council of Ministers: Tourism recognizes the OECS region has been plagued by high airfares and poor intra-regional connectivity. This situation has been further intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Council of Ministers: Tourism recognise that limited connectivity has contributed to the high cost of intra-regional travel, at a time when there is pent-up travel demand. This is resulting in the loss of economic opportunities in the travel and trade sectors.
We recognise that having a regional carrier is of utmost importance for OECS Member States as intra-regional travel has accounted for at least 25% of arrivals across the OECS region, more so in the second half of the year when OECS Member States stage major festivals and events. The Council of Ministers wishes to emphasise the significant direct, indirect and induced contributions that travel and tourism have on our economies, employment and government revenue.
In this regard, the OECS Council of Ministers: Tourism recognizing that regional travel is a strategic pillar for sustainable economic development has agreed to the following:
- Recommitting efforts to advocate for a regional carrier, as a matter of urgency, to facilitate the demand for intra-regional travel;
- Acknowledging the important role of the CARICOM’s Multilateral Air Services Agreement (MASA) in the development of intra-regional travel, and the need for Member States to facilitate interline opportunities between air carriers by applying the MASA as a means of improving air connectivity within the region; and
Committing to exploring with the private sector a financially viable inter-island fast ferry service which would also facilitate the movement of goods, services and people, at a more cost-effective rate whilst advancing the OECS Free Movement Regime.