St. Lucia and St. Vincent PMs sign Accord for creation of Hewanorra Hub
February 19, 2002 - The use of Vieux Fort’s Hewanorra International Airport as a hub for passenger traffic to and from neighbouring St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one step closer to reality, following a one-day visit to the neighbouring OECS member-state by Prime Minister Dr. Kenny D. Anthony on Monday.
Dr. Anthony led St. Lucia’s delegation to a ceremony featuring the signing of an accord between St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the establishment of a pre-clearance hub at Hewanorra International.
The ceremony, which was broadcast live on radio, was held at the Cabinet Room at Government’s Headquarters in Kingstown, where Prime Minister Anthony and his Vincentian counterpart Dr. Ralph Gonsalves affixed their respective signatures to the agreement.
St. Vincent’s E.T. Joshua airport is not up to standard for international traffic and the agreement will allow for use of St. Lucia’s international airport as a hub “for passengers destined to and travelling from St. Vincent and the Grenadines to other destinations.”
Under the accord, which had been negotiated earlier by teams from the two countries, the Prime Ministers agreed that the establishment of the hub will allow Customs and Immigration officials from St. Vincent and the Grenadines to be stationed at Hewanorra.
The Vincentian officials at Hewanorra would be empowered to conduct the normal customs and immigration services for passengers destined to and travelling from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Such passengers, in turn, would not be required to clear customs and immigration on arrival in St. Vincent.
Each government would give priority attention to reviewing the appropriate laws in their respective countries to facilitate the realisation of the hub.
In his address after the signing, Prime Minister Anthony said the establishment of a pre-clearance hub here for passengers to and from the neighbourisng multi-island state “will both increase activity at Hewanorra and decrease the frustration of persons making connections”
The Prime Minister said the Hewanorra Hub “will also increase tourism arrivals for both countries and must therefore be seen as a common resource.”
Noting there was “enormous tourism potential” in the agreement, Dr. Anthony called on local airlines in the two states to “start using this vast resource” that has now opened the way for such possibilities as “joint marketing of the two countries” and “encouragement of cross-border investments.”
The St. Lucia Prime Minister said LIAT, the regional airline, had already committed itself to the operationalisation of the hub and had given certain firm undertakings to both governments.
He said the positive results from the agreement “may not be immediate” and that “faith and confidence” were required on the part of all concerned.
Dr. Anthony sought to quash the fears and address the concerns of some private sector tourism personnel in St. Vincent and the Grenadines who had been given the impression that Hewanorra airport was devoid of international traffic.
He pointed out that several international airlines operate several weekly and daily flights to and from Hewanorra, including: Air Jamaica, BWIA, British Airways, US Air, Air Canada, Virgin Atlantic, as well as several international charters from Europe and North America.
Prime Minister Gonsalves praised the agreement as one that would further enhance not only the goal of Caribbean unity and integration, but also one that would underline that the two states “are not only neighbours, but family.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the St. Lucia Prime Minister said he hoped Dominica would also enter into a similar arrangement for use of Hewanorra International as a connecting hub for passengers travelling to and from St. Lucia’s northern neighbour.
Negotiations for the accord were entered into and concluded by delegations representing the St. Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA) and its Vincentian counterpart organisation, who in turn sold the package to the tourism officials of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The St. Lucia delegation included Prime Minister Anthony, Commerce and Tourism Minister Philip J. Pierre, SLASPA General Manager Vincent Hippolyte and representative sof the Immigration and Customs Departments.
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