Above: a LIAT plane in Antigua
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The Caribbean Tourism Organization will be leading a mission in 2013 to meet with top ministerial officials and technical personnel in the region to find ways to improve intra-regional air links in the Caribbean, the CTO announced in a statement.
The mission is one of several recommendations made by the first meeting of the CTO Aviation Task Force, which was first announced at the State of the Industry Conference in St Kitts in October.
According to new CTO Chairman Beverly Nicholson-Doty, the first meeting discussed issues including the cost of intra-regional travel, the economic impact of declines in travel, improving the ease of passenger movement and launching actions to “improve the efficiency” of Caribbean air travel.
The meeting was chaired by Nicholson-Doty and CTO Past Chairman Ricky Skerritt, the 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,” said Nicholson-Doty, who is the US Virgin Islands’ Tourism Commissioner.
Also on the agenda was the San Juan Accord, a memorandum agreed on by CTO members in 2007, along with issues like minimum revenue guarantees, “open skies” agreements, government taxes and fees, passenger security screening and other issues. The committee additionally discussed the possible departure of American Eagle from its San Juan hub in 2013.
The Committee has proposed a meeting between airline and airport operators within the first few weeks of 2013, and a region-wide meeting of transportation ministers and commissioners in the first quarter.