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Welcome Air Canada Rouge

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All being well, Thursday will be a happy day for the Government and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), but particularly so for officials of the Tourism Authority, the Ministry of Tourism and the management and staff of the Argyle International Airport (AIA).

December 14 is when we welcome the first regularly scheduled international non-stop flight to the AIA since that facility opened 10 months ago. Air Canada Rouge will touch down at 3:50 on Thursday afternoon, and will do so once weekly during the winter season until April 12, 2018. From all reports, a couple other international airlines will shortly begin regular flights into the AIA from North America, at least for the winter season.

Much hard work has gone into bringing the AIA to where it is today, and although the rewards now being realized are small-scale, they are a good start. The AIA is less than one year old and in the general scheme of things, it has done well, given the fact that it takes time for regular traffic into newly opened airports to ramp up.

The authorities are justified in whatever satisfaction they feel now that they have arrived at this point, especially taking into consideration the heavy scepticism that existed in relation to the generally suitability of the airstrip for planes to land and the facility being given the all-clear by international aviation authorities.

Rejoice we should at Thursday’s milestone, but although Air Canada Rouge is coming, we have not arrived. There is much more work to be done if we are to guarantee consistent heavy traffic at the AIA.

All tourism stakeholders, including the policy makers, must consistently put forward their A-game. Critical to flying visitors to our country in large numbers is our hotel room stock, and critical to attracting those large resorts is enough airlift capacity to fill the rooms with guests. So, work on attracting the airlines must be in tandem with efforts to attract tourism investment.

We need large-scale investment in order to quickly ramp up our hotel room numbers and quality; we also need to sustain the level of advertising that has been taking place in a few cities in Ontario, which has helped fill the seats on Air Canada Rouge.

We would like to see the airport grow from strength to strength, utilizing technology designed to make travel easier for passengers departing and arriving at the facility. The challenge is for our staff at the AIA to exceed expectations, adopt a good work ethic, a team effort to make the experience of travelling through the airport pleasant for everyone.

We welcome Air Canada Rouge and may this season be a bumper one for them, so much so, that they may consider extending their regular flights to all year round and that other airlines will want to fly into the destination.

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