A focus on increasing airlift into the region is “manifestly paramount” if regional, island destinations are to succeed in tourism, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said Tuesday.
Addressing the Opening Session of the Third Annual Caribbean Aviation Meetup Conference, D’Aguilar said airlift is the tool that drives sustainable tourism growth for every island destination.
“When you live on an island, you know that visitors could only come by air or by sea,” D’Aguilar said.
“We, like you in the Caribbean Diaspora, do not enjoy the built-in luxury of a drive-up customer base. The Islands of The Bahamas welcome the majority of our visitors by sea, but we know that the injection of visitor spending into the economy increases exponentially when a visitor arrives by air.”
The conference focused on airlift, which officials say is crucial to the region, considering the fact that regional countries are 85 per cent dependent on tourism revenue.
D’Aguilar said The Bahamas’ latest Tourism Exit Study indicates that the average expenditure of a cruise visitor is $70, compared to the average expenditure of an air visitor, which is $1,504.
“Therefore, to succeed in tourism, we believe that a focus upon airlift is manifestly paramount,” he noted.
Hosted by The Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism & Aviation, the conference, June 12-14 (2018) at Atlantis Resort, was considered the largest and most significant international conference for airlift stakeholders in the Caribbean.
The Caribbean Aviation Meetup Conference is described as a results-oriented platform for communication between the various stakeholders in the aviation, tourism and investment industries.
Industry insiders say: “The proactive character of the event makes it the perfect place for face-to-face business discussions, comprehensive group opinion exchanges on sector-specific topics; and is the cornerstone upon which successful networking can be built.”
Conference Presenters were selected based on their extensive experiences in various aspects of the industry and came from the Caribbean, the United States of America, Canada, and Europe. Together these professionals have hundreds of years of practical experience in the aviation industry, be it at airports, airlines, or other aviation service providers.
Presentations focused on areas including Competitiveness through Improved Air Connectivity; Airlift; The Caribbean’s Interstate Highway System; Can Caribbean Carriers Stop Losing Ground? Sustainable Tourism and Airport Development; Aviation and Route Development in the Region; Dilemmas and Solutions; Tourism Development in the Caribbean; Airport Operational and Construction Issues; and Public-Private Partnerships in Tourism, among many others.
D’Aguilar “saluted” Conference planners for “bringing influential stakeholders from far and wide to discuss airlift and for allowing The Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism and Aviation to engage with you in a meaningful way.”
He challenged stakeholders to be “as vigorous as possible” in their deliberations, adding that he honestly believes that airlift solutions “earnestly sought are within our grasp.”
“As you examine various aspects of airlift during this conference, I strongly recommend that you endeavour to be as vigorous as possible in your deliberations and in being vigorous, it is my hope that attempts will be made to honestly assess the challenges and opportunities that airlift poses for our region. This hopefully, will lead to prescriptive next steps to inform the decision-making of respective governments.
“I have browsed the list of topics for this CARIBAVIA conference. The topics are fairly all-encompassing. I believe that such an all-encompassing agenda will help attendees to leave with a better understanding of the specialized areas of airlift,” he added.
This article was written by MATT MAURA, Bahamas Information Services.