A number of recommendations are to go before governments of member states of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) dealing aviation policy matters.
The CTO Aviation Committee met at Our Lucaya Beach and Golf Resort on Saturday October 26, ahead of the 25th Annual Caribbean Tourism Conference (CTC-25) to look at issues facing carriers serving the region and to identify possible solutions to some of the problems.
The Committee, chaired by Conrad Aleong, president and chief executive officer of BWIA West Indies Airways, concluded that indigenous carriers needed help from governments of the region as well as “the marketing machinery” of the external airlines.
The Committee agreed to recommend that governments provide marketing support for the indigenous carriers. It will also propose that the national airlines be the first choice of travel for government employees.
On the subject of charters, the Committee agreed that these should be allowed to collect passengers to and from their destinations. However, the number of passengers should be limited to 10 percent of the aircraft capacity. Members also agreed to recommend to the governments, guidelines for use by destinations to determine when to approach a charter.
With the airline industry continuing to suffer hundreds of millions of dollars in losses since September 11, 2001 the Committee’s objective is to find a method of helping all carriers to profit from serving the region.
“We must have external scheduled carriers, as well as charters, but the indigenous carriers will always be the backbone of sustainable airlift,” said Mr. Aleong. “I look forward to the day when the region has an ideal mix of these various elements.”
Delegates to the meeting unanimously called on the indigenous carriers to meet regularly to discuss common problems and to work together, particularly in the areas of maintenance, airports and aircraft purchasing, to find ways to reduce their costs.
They also expressed the need for the governments to become aware of threat posed by low cost airlines to larger carriers serving the region.
The delegates felt that as the larger airlines restructure their costs to deal with the competition from the low cost carriers, they may pull out of the Caribbean and the indigenous carriers will not be enough to fill the void.
The Aviation Committee meeting was one of several taking place ahead CTC-25, which opens here on Monday, October 28.
The Human Resource Development, Blue Flag, Executive and Marketing Committees met on Saturday while the Ministers of Tourism and the Board of Directors meet on Sunday.
The Ministers and Directors will discuss the Caribbean Tourism Strategic Plan, the financial needs of the sector and a Sustainable Fund for Caribbean Tourism.
They will also discuss the regional television campaign, Life Needs the Caribbean as part of the overall marketing programme, and they are expected to decide on how to proceed with the television campaign beyond its first phase.
The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), with headquarters in Barbados and marketing operations in New York, London and Toronto, is the Caribbean`s tourism development agency and comprises membership of 32 governments and a myriad of private sector companies.