Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association President Josef Forstmayr intends to make airline lift and taxation two of the many issues for discussion at the upcoming inaugural Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Conference (CHTC).
Other issues will include a continued advocacy and promotion of the “Tourism is Key” campaign to create awareness of the importance of tourism to the local economies in the Caribbean, regional integration, linkages and use of locally produced products and regional marketing.
Taking place June 1-3 at the Lloyd Sandiford Erskine Centre in Barbados, CHTC is organized by the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), the Barbados Tourism Authority, and the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association.
CHTC is a new annual tourism summit which brings together hotel and tourism experts and industry professionals to examine forecasts and trends for the Caribbean as well as develop plans to overcome specific challenges faced by the region.
Forstmayr said: “An important focus at this conference for me will be to highlight that improving airlift must be one of our top priorities. Affordable air service remains one of our biggest challenges. We all suffer when a carrier reduces or eliminates service to a destination.
“Rising fuel costs, increased airport user fees and taxes create additional challenges as air fares rise making vacations more costly or sometimes even result in reduced services.
“Airlift is also one of the top three items on developers’ lists when researching investment opportunities.
“I am strongly urging all our Caribbean governments to accept this premise. NOT accepting this clear message will simply lead to no new investors coming to the region, present investments will dry up and go bust, and existing industry will continue to under-perform.
“It is time that all our Caribbean governments and the entire private sector get off our collective butts and work together to get over this hurdle. We are ready for this and we are challenging our governments to join with us at CHTA.
“We need more regional integration, less visas, more airlift, less taxation and I urge once again, that my country, Jamaica takes the lead to establish funding for a regional marketing campaign. The time to act is now.”
Confirmed speakers and panelists for CHTC include:
Brian Payea, TripAdvisor, Keynote Speaker
Colin Jordan, president, Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association
Jean-Claude Baumgarten, vice chair World Travel & Tourism Council
Hugh Riley, secretary general, Caribbean Tourism Organization
Ian Burns, CEO & chairman, RedJet
Leesa Parris-Rudder, Chief Commercial Officer, LIAT
Vernice Walkine, vice president marketing and communications, Nassau Airport Development Company
The conference’s underlying theme is “Tourism is Key,” CHTA’sadvocacy campaign designed to raise awareness for the importance of tourism on all Caribbean communities and how all industries are linked to tourism. “Tourism is Key” is based on data from the Oxford Economics Report, which was commissioned by CHTA with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). New statistics will be unveiled during the first CHTC general sessions.