The recommendation follows a study commissioned by the OECS Authority last December and conducted by Trinidad-based El Perial Management Services headed by Aviation Consultant Ian Bertrand.
Bertrand told OBSERVER media that also listed among the recommendations is that national tourism authorities should place more emphasis on attracting OECS visitors.
“They tend to focus more on tourists coming from abroad than from tourists coming from within the region. We have demonstrated the value of regional tourism as opposed to international tourists,” Bertrand, a former BWIA CEO, said.
The consultant also recommended that, “private airlines registered in the Eastern Caribbean be allowed to fly freely within the OECS.”
He said that recommendation will “allow for the kind of connectivity that you and I are demanding.”
“The last one (recommendation) is to have the kind of air service agreements that would facilitate these airlines flying throughout the OECS,” the aviation consultant added.
What happens next is up to the OECS Secretariat, Bertrand said before adding that the recommendations will “definitely” make air travel easier in the sub-region.
Addressing the meeting Wednesday, Head of Economic Development Policy Unit of the OECS Rodinald Soomer said it ought not to be “just another meeting on intra-regional travel.”
He said intra-regional travel had been constantly declining, hitting especially small hotels hard.
Soomer told the meeting that although OECS nationals have the legal right to move freely, that cannot be properly exercised because of “inconvenient scheduling and poor connectivity or if the means to travel are limited because of the high cost of airfare.”
Meantime, using recent data, the country’s Minister Tourism, Asot Michael, painted a gloomy image of intra-regional travel. He said in the case of Antigua & Barbuda, arrivals from the OECS have slipped from 18,740 in 2008 to 10,022 in 2014 – an almost 50 per cent decline.