Travel Industry Expert Suggests Regional Governments Should Get out of Airline Business

Retired travel and cruise industry expert Cecil Ince says governments aren’t the best owners of airlines. (Credit: Barbados Today)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday January 17, 2019 – One of the early pioneers in Barbados’ tourism industry is suggesting that governments in the Caribbean get out of the airline business if they want to see improvements in regional travel.

Retired travel and cruise industry expert Cecil Ince, one of the founders of the now Foster & Ince Group which originally started with a focus on the travel agency business in 1967, has expressed disappointment that nations within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are still too segregated.

Pointing out that Barbados remained the majority shareholder of struggling regional airline LIAT, he said it was time for “a unification of aviation thinking”.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think that governments are the best owners of airlines – although there is always a fear that private enterprise will charge more because they want to see a profit and that government can subsidize. But, by the same token, LIAT has not been a great financial success although they try very hard,” Ince, who served 18 years in the airline industry, from 1952, told local online newspaper Barbados Today.

Highlighting the high cost of intra-regional travel, he said pricing was a “dynamic factor”. And he said he hoped that recent taxes introduced by the Barbados government – US$70 for international travel and US$35 for regional travel –were of a temporary nature.

Speaking about tourism in Barbados, Ince said the country’s bread and butter industry would do well with more training of industry workers and continued improvements in customer service.

“When you experience the service on a cruise ship, which is largely drawn from the Far East, it is impeccable. Our hotel service is generally very good but for some reason airline travel has become much more a utility and people are frequent travellers and there are all sorts of incentives. But I think it can certainly be improved,” he said.

“I believe the government has to do a bit of training, there are good immigration officers and there are ones who just do it as a job and don’t have their heart in it and that shows. I think we could improve that . . . I think the airlines still try.” (Adapted from Barbados Today)

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