The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has developed a partnership approach to enhance air connectivity across the region, which its chairperson, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, also Commissioner of Tourism for the United States Virgin Islands detailed in a ‘Market Focus’ briefing within this year’s Routes Americas Strategy Summit in San Salvador, El Salvador.
The special Aviation Task Force was established in late 2012 and brings together multiple interests across the Caribbean to encourage, champion and inform the facilitation of air transportation into and throughout the region. Alongside the CTO representation these include regulators, airport authorities, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECSA) and airline organisation IATA.
The task force is working to educate of the need to increase access to international & regional markets, to increase economic benefits generated by growth and the development of tourism and to develop an improved competitive position in the market place. “It is accepted that air access is integral to the archipelago’s tourism growth,” said Nicholson-Doty, “and by working together we can maximise our benefits. In many instances somebody across the region is doing something well that we can learn from. Why do we all have to individually attempt to reinvent the wheel?”
According to the Tourism Commissioner, the task force is working to examine the volume and potential of air service into and within the Caribbean and will implement strategies for increasing intra-Caribbean tourism, review status of regulations governing air transportation to and within the region, while improving the experience for passengers throughout the region and removing barriers to cooperation between carriers, regulators, airport authorities, Customs, Immigration, Security and other entities.
However, she identified a number of issues that are impacting the task forces abilities to meet these ambitions. These include inefficient passenger and baggage security-screening arrangements, entry visa restrictions across many jurisdictions, the poor quality of some airport facilities, weak customer focus of airport management systems and a lack of code shares and interline arrangements.