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Improving Regional Connectivity, Caribbean Leaders and Industry Personnel Still Looking for Viable Options

By Reginald Andrew
Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire
Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire

Saint Lucia remains committed to supporting private and public sector initiatives geared towards improving connectivity in the region.

Tourism Minster Dr Ernest Hilaire highlighted this at a press conference this week, adding that this is the focus of regional leaders and tourism officials who continue to look for innovative means of providing affordable and efficient travel routes and options for their people.

‚ÄúAs a government we are commited to supporting connectivity of the region and once there is placed before the government a viable initiative, we will be prepared to support it,‚ÄĚ the minister told reporters.

Wider afield on the issue of regional travel, Dr. Hilaire recalled, there was a previous venture proposed to establish a ferry service among the sub-regional states.

He also evoked that there was a study undertaken by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) on this matter, and during the latest OECS Ministers of Tourism conference that he attended ‚Äúthe OECS identified ferries that can be used to have that connectivity.‚ÄĚ

Hilaire said that with a follow up meeting due within the next few weeks, there will be an update on ‚Äúthe issue of financing of the ferries.‚ÄĚ

Hospitality industry personnel note that  the islands of Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint Lucia are a perfect example of combining several different Caribbean islands without the need to fly. Although there might be more operators involved in the ferry service business, it is noted that these are not all direct services and travelling from Saint Lucia to Dominica, for example, might involve a brief stop in Martinique.

All crossings are made by fast and comfortable catamaran services.

L’Express des Iles¬†has daily services between the main island of¬†Guadeloupe¬†and several other islands.

In addition, L’Express des Iles¬†operates almost daily services between the islands of¬†Dominica¬†and¬†Guadeloupe, and ¬†has regular services between Pointe-a-Pitre and¬†Fort-de-France, the capital of¬†Martinique.

L’Express des Iles¬†has at least 3-4 weekly services to Castries, Saint Lucia. It’s the same ferry which goes to Dominica and Martinique, thus leaving around 8:00am from Pointe-a-Pitre. It arrives in¬†Castries¬†around 3:00pm.

L’Express des Iles¬†has 3 to 5 weekly sailings between the capitals of Roseau, Dominica and Castries, Saint Lucia,¬†respectively. All of them stop on their route in¬†Fort-de-France, Martinique.

Also, there have been discussions and rumors about new international ferry services between Barbados and several islands in the West Indies, even up north to Guadeloupe, stopping along the way at other islands like Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,  Grenada, Saint Lucia, Martinique and Dominica. Unfortunately, there are no ferries from Barbados.

Meanwhile Inter Caribbean Airways has been making waves with its ground-breaking extension of travel network options through the region; on the other hand, it was reported that LIAT will be folding up operations, though it was hinted that Antigua & Barbuda were keen on reviving the beleaguered airline.

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