Showing posts from April, 2011

Airline Politics in the Eastern Caribbean

The week of April 18th has seen St Kitts occupying a special place for those of us interested in the regional travel and tourism sector.  In St Kitts, Tourism Ministers from across the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) converged for the 10th meeting of the OECS Council of Tourism Ministers.  The theme was: ‘OECS Economic Union: Strategic Considerations for Tourism’.
At a time when the wider CARICOM grouping is not progressing as quickly as many of us would like, the OECS Secretariat is trying to push forward.  Personally I am skeptical about nations which are to some extent, competing tourist destinations, embarking on a single OECS marketing and branding strategy.  A part of me hopes that in time, I will be proven wrong but for now, I remain skeptical.
Obviously the agenda included issues related to intra-regional travel in the OECS.  The pre meeting press release quoted Dr. Loraine Nicholas, Programme Officer for Tourism at the OECS Secretariat’s Economic Affairs Divi…

The End of High Fares

Last Monday, a message from the REDjet CEO appeared on their Facebook Fanpage which announced that they were taking bookings as of April 13th with flights starting May 8th.  The first destinations to be offered are Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and of course Trinidad. 
Many of us will be trying to buy one of the US$9.99 one-way fares or one of the 250,000 seats for US$49.99 or under.  But would this necessarily mean the end of high fares?  Time would tell but it would be difficult to ignore the similarities between what is expected to happen between REDjet and Caribbean Airlines (CAL) and what happened between Digicel and TSTT some years back.  I was not living in Trinidad at the time, but I did follow the events with great interest.  There are two areas that interest me.  Firstly, there is the impact on consumers.  Secondly there is the impact on the incumbent service providers.
Firstly, in terms of the impact on consumers, we observed that handset prices fell dramatically at the height…

The Potential of Medical Tourism

In November 2010 there was an article in another local newspaper speaking of the potential of medical tourism here in Trinidad and Tobago.  It was written by the President of the Private Hospitals Association which makes sense as this tends to be a private sector driven initiative.  Since then I have noticed at least three (3) of our Caribbean neighbours taking the lead on medical tourism.
Firstly, there is Barbados.  Over the last few months, I have noticed ads from the Barbados Fertility Centre in our local press.  But they are also advertising beyond our region.  Last week, on a US travel site, I noticed a number of in vitro fertilization (IVF) ‘holiday packages’ that bundle airfare and accommodation with airport and clinic transfers.  Packages range from US$5 500 to US$30 000 and beyond.  IVF costs are not included in the package prices.
Secondly, there is Guyana.  Last month, Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo reported that his government had secured an $18 million line of credi…

Let’s Raise the Level of Debate in Tourism

Two things got me thinking last week.  Firstly, I was at a meeting at which some government programs were being discussed.  Someone make the point that hoteliers were having problems recruiting workers because social programs such as CEPEP were attracting available workers.  Secondly, I have been following some online discussions about the tourism industry and its apparent challenges. For me, the common thread between these two incidents was the lack of hard data to support views.  Not that the view or criticisms were right or wrong but just that there is an absence of hard data in the public domain to guide discussions.
When one compares local discussions around the energy or manufacturing sectors for example, and compares it to what obtains in tourism, the difference is stark.  The head of a tourism stakeholder group has often said that tourism is treated like the ‘outside’ child.  I do not think that I have found anyone who really disagrees with her.  Discussions around our touris…