Talking Aviation and Tourism in St Maarten

st maarten simpsonThe Simpson Bay Resort in St Maarten.

The Caribbean’s first and longest-running conference laser-focussed on regional aviation,  the sixth annual Caribavia Summit & Retreat was held at the Simpson Bay Resort on the Dutch side of the dual-nation island this week.

The conference welcomed delegates from the U.S., Canada, Portugal, UK, France, and United Arab Emirates and Caribbean participants from Sint Maarten, The Bahamas, Barbados, Curacao, Dominica, St. Eustatius, Saba and Turks and Caicos Islands.  

Delivering opening remarks, Hon. Silveria E Jacobs, Prime Minister, Sint Maarten referenced the challenges of the pandemic noting the region still faces hurdles relating to aviation access, “Sint Maarten whose economy is almost 100 percent based on tourism has shown great resilience, if we as a government are to adopt economic and regulatory policies that encourage the development of air transport, demand could increase in our region.”   

st maarten
Cdr Bud Slabbaert is the organizer of the event.

Curacao-based, Ivo Oduber, Quality Manager at EZ Air, announced new flights taking off by the end of this year.

“We’re looking to add scheduled service from Aruba to Colombia and from Curacao to Sint Maarten in time for the holiday season,” Oduber said.

St Maarten Prime Minister Silveria E Jacobs.

From the Turks and Caicos Islands, Lyndon Gardiner, founder, interCaribbean Airways advocates the region should be one economic area when it comes to air service.  “I encourage more airlines and more competition which keeps us on our feet and provides the customer with lower fares and better service, but we must get to the place where costs are down to encourage traffic to the region.

Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, former minister tourism and aviation of The Bahamas and principal partner of the Nassau-based travel industry consultancy Bedford Baker Group, explained that as the Caribbean is the most tourism-dependant region in the world, it is also the most aviation-dependant region.

“As a result of the pandemic, “he said, “I’ve seen a substantial increase in private aircraft coming to The Bahamas and to many other islands, we must take full advantage of this surge.”  

“I am pleased to see the International Air Transport Association (IATA) will host Caribbean Aviation Day on Sept. 14 in the Cayman Islands,” he said.

In Las Vegas from Oct. 16 -18, ‘Routes World’ is a win-win for destination decision-makers pitching new routes to airport and airline movers and shakers.  “The Caribbean is well represented with advance registration looking good,” said David Appleby, director, Routes, Latin America & Caribbean, “tradeshow interest is high with confirmations already from U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos Islands, Punta Cana and Guadeloupe with additional destinations expected in the coming months. “

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