Fri 29th Mar 2019

Paying airlines to fly to SVG is stupid

The disclosure in the Vincentian newspaper on Friday 22nd March 2019 by the CEO of the SVG Tourism Authority, Glen Beache, that the ULP regime was paying the airline CAL to service SVG from the day of its inaugural flight at the AIA is an outrage.

Spending $1.5 billion on the building of Argyle International Airport was meant to be good for our country. We were told that it would boost the economy. However, paying millions of dollars to airlines to beg them to fly to SVG, is not an example of money coming in to our country, but money going out.

The SVG economy cannot be boosted by paying airlines millions of dollars. The economy will only be weakened more. It is clearly stupid to be giving away millions of dollars to airlines to beg them to fly to SVG.

The fact that airlines have to be paid millions of dollars to fly to SVG, clearly shows that no cost / benefit analysis was done before the Argyle airport was built, to see if there was a demand from airlines for direct international flights from Canada, USA or other places beyond the Caribbean.

It illustrates the financial incompetence of ULP regime that they would waste $1.5 billion on a building a project, before finding out if it was needed or if it will make money for our country.

Paying millions of dollars to airlines to beg them to fly to SVG has not created a boost in tourism in SVG. Many of the people coming to SVG by air from beyond the Caribbean are Vincentians. There is no boost to the tourism sector as they visit and stay with family.

This is confirmed by the comments a number of taxi drivers have made to Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal BSc (hons) MSc, MBA, The Leader of SVG Green Party, who say that they often wait all day at the Argyle airport and get no people wanting a taxi. They say passengers arriving are mainly Vincentians who get picked up by their family or hop on a bus.

The ULP regime is effectively paying millions of dollars for Vincentians to visit their family, which they would have done anyway.

There is no boost to tourism. Tourism could never be the engine of the SVG economy. As Argyle airport shows, the rate of return from any investment in tourism is almost zero. Therefore, why give priority to driving the SVG economy with tourism; why waste millions of dollars paying airlines to fly to SVG?

Heavily-subsidised direct flights to SVG are unsustainable. There is no financial profit to be made by paying airlines. There is no positive economic impact on the SVG economy. On top of all the millions of dollars lost in paying airlines to fly to SVG, we have been told that about $20 million annually is also lost on maintaining Argyle airport.

The whole concept of tourism in SVG and the Argyle airport is a massive financial drain on the country and the economy. Paying airlines to fly to SVG just adds to the financial loss.

As a country, where are we going? The path for small states success is high-quality education not tourism. History will show that ULP regime’s focus on tourism as the engine of the SVG economy is a failure.

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