Categorized | Editorial, Local, News

No upgrade to the airport? There can’t be any seriousness about tourism

Editorial – October 23, 2015

A matter of serious concern is the matter of the development of an airport which will be compatible with any tourist development of Montserrat. The problem is that it seems like “pulling teeth”, the phrase nowadays may not be so relevant as that seems not to so hard on human beings anymore. But it is accepted that when access is discussed and anything connected such as port it is very rarely in the plural ‘ports’ which means that the airport is excluded from the discussion.

What that tells, is that there is really very little understanding of the tourism industry – Who, where and what is targeted for the real benefits of the tourism in the short to long term. In the early 2000s when there was still access to the conference centre at the Vue Pointe hotel, it was there at a Chamber of Commerce meeting, , (it may have Head of the Overseas Territories Department (OTD) Clive Warren or Brian Kavanaugh DFID head in Montserrat at the time), while applauding the day tour idea as it sporadically helped at least once sector of the private sector, he convincingly noted that the stay-over visitor/tourist for just one night provided multiple economic benefits to the island.

In spite of this with the forced and regrettable construction of the Gerald’s (now John A Osborne airport) which we had said may well be nothing more than a ‘black elephant’ which is now almost, being no use to the air access problem, very few have seriously given any attention to the serious need for a ‘proper’ or perhaps a more appropriate word, ‘meaningful’ airport. CRM made a move not long ago, but with no government support, it had no traction.

Gerald's airport

Gerald’s airport

Instead what has been pushed and that still seems to be going nowhere, is FERRY, always bad, even wrong in our view as it is limited. And does anyone notice? How long ago there is supposed to be a purpose built ferry? The problem there however is that the new Government is so new, but unprepared and slow as we have mentioned before, they have not picked up, or have absolutely no knowledge of what went on before them.

Following the decision by the Government in 2002 to accept the Gerald’s airport, under pressure from CRM and others who just never gave up on the position that an airport at Gerald’s was bad, OTD head Clive Warren said, “The position is that the Montserrat government has taken a firm decision on what it believes to be in the best interest of Montserrat on a whole. That’s what government is all about sometimes – taking hard decisions, with which some people may not feel entirely comfortable.

“There is no question of going back to the drawing boards at this time because Montserrat’s economic development depends primarily on the construction of an airport as Britain cut its subsidies gradually from £24 million in 2001-2002, to £7.5 million by 2005-2006.” That never happened, but Chief Minister John Osborne had said then his government was forced to accept.”

CRM responded: ““We are going to pursue this matter because we are not satisfied that Geralds is safe,” the CRM spokesman said. “We are doing a number of things which we don’t want to talk about at this time but this is not the end, because it is unsafe…. We will continue to inform the people of Montserrat.”

photo of potential airport site

photo of potential airport site

The movement added, “in spite of our much publicised protests to the Government of Montserrat and the highest levels of Her Majesty’s Government, Montserrat ended up with a 540 metre long runway at Gerald’s significantly inadequate for our needs”.

Three years after the airport was constructed, in February 2008 DFID acknowledged that it was one of two errors to build the airport at Gerald’s, and that HMG was prepared to do what was necessary to correct that one, especially that the ‘one step forward and backward’ was no longer on the cards.

Everyone thought that the stage was set, and probably more so when Dr. Lewis felt overwhelmed, to allow Montserrat to elect a government it believed would take it forward since he was unable to harness the support from his ‘devious’ (a word he used frequently) colleagues.

In April 2013 the word was busy that the Premier was going to look for investors to support his SGP quest, to include the airport. No one at that point knew he had already told HMG that his interest was mainly in the port, to the point where his colleague was laughed at in Whitehall when he brought up the idea (he was Minister of ports) that the airport was critical for our development.

TMR wrote in the Editorial – April 26, 2013, when the Premier reported on his return from Dubai, Brussells and the UK:We were surprised to learn that there were no discussions in support of the need for a new airport in Montserrat, which most thought was an absolute necessity notwithstanding the sounds of the acquisition of a purpose built ferry. The Governor had made the statement that there was no plan on the horizon for either an extension of the present airport or the building of a new one.

“And as a matter of fact the Premier has now confirmed that Montserrat’s future travel for a long time will be air service as it is, with a ferry which cannot guarantee regular travel between the Islands and Montserrat.”

All this time tourism was as good as dead, and the complaints that things in Montserrat bad. The Premier had reported that he had letters of intent for the construction of hotel etc. in Little Bay, so we wrote, “But, in case there are those who believed that such a plan would damper the planned up scaled tourism business, the Premier informed that the hotel developers would actually prefer that Montserrat was not that easily accessible as a means to keeping the uniqueness of Montserrat. They would include helicopter services as a preferred option. “They preferred Montserrat to be a unique destination where people would want to pay money to come to,” the Premier said.

Is it that this Government supports these failed ideas or they know nothing of all that had been going on other than only a select few was drawing on HMG support?

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Editorial – October 23, 2015

A matter of serious concern is the matter of the development of an airport which will be compatible with any tourist development of Montserrat. The problem is that it seems like “pulling teeth”, the phrase nowadays may not be so relevant as that seems not to so hard on human beings anymore. But it is accepted that when access is discussed and anything connected such as port it is very rarely in the plural ‘ports’ which means that the airport is excluded from the discussion.

What that tells, is that there is really very little understanding of the tourism industry – Who, where and what is targeted for the real benefits of the tourism in the short to long term. In the early 2000s when there was still access to the conference centre at the Vue Pointe hotel, it was there at a Chamber of Commerce meeting, , (it may have Head of the Overseas Territories Department (OTD) Clive Warren or Brian Kavanaugh DFID head in Montserrat at the time), while applauding the day tour idea as it sporadically helped at least once sector of the private sector, he convincingly noted that the stay-over visitor/tourist for just one night provided multiple economic benefits to the island.

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In spite of this with the forced and regrettable construction of the Gerald’s (now John A Osborne airport) which we had said may well be nothing more than a ‘black elephant’ which is now almost, being no use to the air access problem, very few have seriously given any attention to the serious need for a ‘proper’ or perhaps a more appropriate word, ‘meaningful’ airport. CRM made a move not long ago, but with no government support, it had no traction.

Gerald's airport

Gerald’s airport

Instead what has been pushed and that still seems to be going nowhere, is FERRY, always bad, even wrong in our view as it is limited. And does anyone notice? How long ago there is supposed to be a purpose built ferry? The problem there however is that the new Government is so new, but unprepared and slow as we have mentioned before, they have not picked up, or have absolutely no knowledge of what went on before them.

Following the decision by the Government in 2002 to accept the Gerald’s airport, under pressure from CRM and others who just never gave up on the position that an airport at Gerald’s was bad, OTD head Clive Warren said, “The position is that the Montserrat government has taken a firm decision on what it believes to be in the best interest of Montserrat on a whole. That’s what government is all about sometimes – taking hard decisions, with which some people may not feel entirely comfortable.

“There is no question of going back to the drawing boards at this time because Montserrat’s economic development depends primarily on the construction of an airport as Britain cut its subsidies gradually from £24 million in 2001-2002, to £7.5 million by 2005-2006.” That never happened, but Chief Minister John Osborne had said then his government was forced to accept.”

CRM responded: ““We are going to pursue this matter because we are not satisfied that Geralds is safe,” the CRM spokesman said. “We are doing a number of things which we don’t want to talk about at this time but this is not the end, because it is unsafe…. We will continue to inform the people of Montserrat.”

photo of potential airport site

photo of potential airport site

The movement added, “in spite of our much publicised protests to the Government of Montserrat and the highest levels of Her Majesty’s Government, Montserrat ended up with a 540 metre long runway at Gerald’s significantly inadequate for our needs”.

Three years after the airport was constructed, in February 2008 DFID acknowledged that it was one of two errors to build the airport at Gerald’s, and that HMG was prepared to do what was necessary to correct that one, especially that the ‘one step forward and backward’ was no longer on the cards.

Everyone thought that the stage was set, and probably more so when Dr. Lewis felt overwhelmed, to allow Montserrat to elect a government it believed would take it forward since he was unable to harness the support from his ‘devious’ (a word he used frequently) colleagues.

In April 2013 the word was busy that the Premier was going to look for investors to support his SGP quest, to include the airport. No one at that point knew he had already told HMG that his interest was mainly in the port, to the point where his colleague was laughed at in Whitehall when he brought up the idea (he was Minister of ports) that the airport was critical for our development.

TMR wrote in the Editorial – April 26, 2013, when the Premier reported on his return from Dubai, Brussells and the UK:We were surprised to learn that there were no discussions in support of the need for a new airport in Montserrat, which most thought was an absolute necessity notwithstanding the sounds of the acquisition of a purpose built ferry. The Governor had made the statement that there was no plan on the horizon for either an extension of the present airport or the building of a new one.

“And as a matter of fact the Premier has now confirmed that Montserrat’s future travel for a long time will be air service as it is, with a ferry which cannot guarantee regular travel between the Islands and Montserrat.”

All this time tourism was as good as dead, and the complaints that things in Montserrat bad. The Premier had reported that he had letters of intent for the construction of hotel etc. in Little Bay, so we wrote, “But, in case there are those who believed that such a plan would damper the planned up scaled tourism business, the Premier informed that the hotel developers would actually prefer that Montserrat was not that easily accessible as a means to keeping the uniqueness of Montserrat. They would include helicopter services as a preferred option. “They preferred Montserrat to be a unique destination where people would want to pay money to come to,” the Premier said.

Is it that this Government supports these failed ideas or they know nothing of all that had been going on other than only a select few was drawing on HMG support?