Why the Caribbean Aviation Meetup Matters
By Kareem Yarde
Just shy of five months ago, air transport and tourism leaders, enthusiasts and well-wishers huddled at the Fort Young Hotel in Dominica to herald the commencement of an annual action oriented Meetup to bring innovative solutions to Caribbean air transport issues.
It wasn’t more than two months later when I took the liberty of initiating a petition to publicly denounce the regions air transport woes. In fact, each of us could atleast attest to some endeavor which sought (and seeks) to resolve our regional challenges.
But it can never be said that actors in the region have not proffered solutions. One only needs to point to the litany of studies, radio and television shows, conferences, forums and articles such as this. The Caribbean Aviation Meetup presents yet another opportunity for us to find consensus and press these issues forward.
Where we could perhaps improve in addressing these issues is by being more action oriented. We need our political classes to be more willing to try the solutions proposed. The issues in our region are ‘perplexing’ and vary from sustainable ways of route development to airport financing to the most appropriate method for airspace revenue distribution.
As the industry descends on St. Maarten between the 13th and 15th of June 2017, in the interest of all our Caribbean brothers and sisters; in the interest of our regional economic and social survival, we have to be more action oriented, and the forum creates an opportunity for just that.
As opposed to politicians, it is the technocrats, the persons most aware of the intricacies who can propel these issues forward. While there is nothing new under the sun, the reality is that we all want some type of improvement and so all stakeholders must become involved in the discourse and most importantly must be ready to commit to change. The improvement we all seek will not be achieved if any stakeholder cedes, not the governments, not the private and public carriers nor labour.
But to achieve this we all have to be willing to compromise. George Bernard Shaw once said, “progress is impossible without change, those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”. The governments, air transport and tourism actors and labour all have their individual objectives which in some instances appear polar, but while we stand resolutely committed to achieving these individual objectives we must recognise the resulting implications.
While we must still be occupied with antiquated issues, new and more relevant issues and opportunities are emerging. For example, we have not been able to use the growth in room stock which sharing economy sites like Airbnb have provided to catalyze our air transport prospects; we have not been able to focus on using ‘Big DATA’ in our tourism industry to attract carriers; We have not been able to focus on making our travel experiences more hassle free; our regional carriers have not been able to focus on extending interlines because they are busy fighting internal battles. Truth be told there are many other issues and opportunities which we cannot yet address because we are still fighting yearlong battles which could very well be resolved if the region were to give the proposed solutions a chance.
The Caribbean Aviation Meetup gives us yet another opportunity to implement solutions, hence the call for technocrats and industry professionals to be in attendance so that we can yet again attempt to find common ground. Once again, as we descend on St. Maarten come June 13th, let us use this forum to be action oriented! Remember the words of Mahatma Gandhi — ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world’; I will be there! Will you?
Kareem Yarde is the founder and creative strategist of Tourism Analytical Services. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.