At the London meeting, addressed by Hon. Dr Douglas Slater on March 18, the most pressing concern for those in attendance was that of the international airport currently being built at Argyle on mainland St. Vincent. Its projected date of completion was pushed back to 2013.
Dr Slater extolled the benefits of having an international airport – for those living locally, as well as Vincentians in the Diaspora.
“Just imagine when you’re travelling home, you can cut out that part – from Barbados to St. Vincent… that is more money in your pocket!”
Dr Slater also revealed that there are many investors who have been put off from investing in the island because of the lack of a direct route to get there (by air). He said that an international airport would also open new doors for local business people with a product to export. A direct shipping route (by air) would allow the seller to offer it at a lower cost, and thus increase sales.
Dr Slater also acknowledged those who criticise the venture, predicting that it is doomed for failure.
“Sometimes you can’t just look at the upfront monetary value. It’s the opportunities that will be opened.”
Former Vincentian Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell believes that the success of the newly built Buccament Bay Resort is closely linked to that of the international airport. In an article in the travel segment of The Telegraph online (dated Saturday, April 2, 2011), Sir Mitchell said:
“I wish them luck, but Buccament is on too big a scale and misconstrued. It’s trying to market itself as a beach resort on St Vincent, whose appeal is all about nature.”
Dr Slater spoke about the progress being made on negotiations concerning the European Union’s commitment to the Windward Island banana industry, and the [then] current status of the fight against Air Passenger Duty tax on flights to the Caribbean.
He also congratulated the UK Vincentian Diaspora for raising £75,000 in aid of the Hurricane Tomas relief fund.
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