Published On: Fri, Mar 14th, 2014

Air transport addressed as major factor in the development of sustainable tourism for the Caribbean

LogoALTAMIAMI - Delegates from the tourism industry, government agencies, air transport associations and international organizations gathered in the Bahamas recetly for the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) Conference to address transport and air connectivity as a major factor for the Caribbean islands seeking to propel a program of sustainable development for their tourism.

The conference, organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and the Inter-American Development Bank, hosted a special session on Transport and Air Connectivity, followed by a Ministerial Meeting, attended by Ministers and invited guests only. Many of the topics derived from prior discussions held at the Caribbean Meeting, part of the Latin American & Caribbean Air Transport Association´s (ALTA) 10thAirline Leaders Forum in November of last year, in the city of Cancun. The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), ALTA, airline CEO´s from Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Ministries of Tourism of several nations in the Caribbean participated in this meeting, which centered around the opportunities to promote intra-Caribbean growth and the need for regional governments´ collaboration.

Air transport in the Caribbean faces challenges, particularly in terms of infrastructure development, policies and routes network. The existing inadequacies in these areas limit the opportunities to develop and strengthen intra-Caribbean travel. The issues are aggravated by a system that defines all intra-Caribbean flights as international flights, making them costlier - more taxes - and subject to security standards that are stricter than those required for domestic travel.

The panel discussions, which focused on the topics of Travel Facilitation, Connectivity and Taxes, concluded after delineating a number of initiatives for further exploration. Of key importance is the collaboration among flag carriers in the Caribbean to promote the sharing of best practices, as is currently the case of Latin American airlines. Equally vital is the need for regional cooperation agreements among member countries of the CTO. To help reinforce the message and provide traction, the UNWTO and the CTO signed an official agreement to forge a path of collaboration so as to safeguard the interest of the Caribbean nations´ tourism and travel.

ALTA is committed to increasing the visibility of the challenges and opportunities in Caribbean aviation and to supporting efforts to promote the sustainable growth of the industry in that region. To this end, ALTA will hold a meeting dedicated to aviation in the Caribbean as part of the 11th ALTA Airline Leaders Forum in the Bahamas in November of this year. More information will be made available at a later date.

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