BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (17 Dec, 2012) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) will lead a mission in the New Year to meet with top ministerial officials and technical personnel in its member countries to seek their assistance in the advancement of better intra-regional air links to help boost tourism in the region.
This was one of several recommendations coming out of the inaugural meeting of the CTO Aviation Task Force which took place at the regional tourism development agency’s headquarters in Barbados recently.
The recently appointed CTO Chairman, the USVI Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty, reported a successful inaugural meeting which discussed the cost of intra-regional travel, the economic impact of the declines in travel, improving the ease of passenger movement, and launching actions to improve the efficiency of Caribbean aviation. The meeting was jointly chaired by Commissioner Nicholson-Doty and CTO past chairman Ricky Skerritt, Minister of Tourism and International Transport of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“We had an excellent first meeting and we are confident that CTO’s leadership in this area will be critical to reviving growth in intra-regional travel which has declined seriously in recent years,” the CTO chairman said.
The Aviation Committee discussed the San Juan Accord – a memorandum on the regional air transport sector that was agreed by CTO members in 2007 – as well as other important issues such as minimum revenue guarantees, communication among regional carriers, “open skies” agreements, government taxes and fees, fuel costs, visa restrictions, passenger security-screening arrangements, airlift capacity and the dependency of local hotels on the intra-regional market.
Another key item addressed was American Eagle’s possible departure from the San Juan hub in 2013 and both the opportunities and challenges this presents, especially for destinations in the Eastern Caribbean which depend on this commuter service.
Among other recommendations, the Committee proposed a meeting between airline and airport operators within the first few weeks of the New Year and a region-wide meeting of transportation ministers and commissioners in the first quarter of 2013.
The composition of the Committee reflects technical, regulatory and policy-making experience and has public/private sector representation from tourism professionals, accommodations, airlines, airports and aviation consultants.
The following are the initial members of the CTO Aviation Committee:
Richard Skerritt, Minister of Tourism & International Transport, St. Kitts and Nevis, Co-Chair
Jaime Lopez Diaz, Chief Development Officer of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, Government of Puerto Rico, Co-Chair
Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Chairman, CTO Council of Ministers; & Commissioner of Tourism, United States Virgin Islands
Brian Challenger, Aviation Consultant to the Government of Antigua & Barbuda
Donald McPhail, Director, Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority
Elizabeth Scotton, Chief Commercial Officer, Sangster International Airport, Jamaica
Dayanand Birju, General Manager, Airports Authority, Trinidad & Tobago
Neville Boxill, Aviation Consultant, Barbados Tourism Authority
Pauline Yearwood, Deputy Programme Manager, Transportation, CARICOM Secretariat
Josef Forstmayr, Chairman, Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association
Michael Lum, Air Service Strategy and Development Consultant, Sixel Aviation Consulting
Ian Bertrand, Principal, El Perial Aviation Consulting
Colin Jones, Regional Representative, International Air Transport Association
Hugh Riley, Secretary General, Caribbean Tourism Organization