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Air transportation a critical issue to confront CTO ministers at Caribbean Week meetings

Air transportation was a key issue for discussion among Caribbean tourism leaders meeting in New York City during the Caribbean Week…

Air transportation was a key issue for discussion among Caribbean tourism leaders meeting in New York City during the Caribbean Week activities organized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).



Discussion on a Caribbean air transportation study formed part of the business agenda of ministers and commissioners of tourism when they met at the New York Hilton last Thursday morning. The issue came up again at the 12th Annual Caribbean Tourism Marketing Workshop and Awards Luncheon on Friday.



Without reliable, efficient and adequate air transportation at affordable prices the Caribbean cannot be assured of a sustainable tourism industry, said Arley Sobers, CTO`s acting secretary general. Because of the Caribbean tourism industry`s overwhelming dependence on air transportation our countries – economic interests are at risk if airlift to the region is inadequate, he added.



About 85 percent of airlines operating in Latin America and the Caribbean have had major losses – an estimated US$8 billion between 2001 and 2004, with US$5 billion in 2004 alone despite a more than 18 percent increase in passengers. Also, the regional carriers have lost hundreds of millions of dollars among them.



While the major carriers are reporting losses, with some going into bankruptcy, low cost carriers have revolutionized the way the airline industry does business and have been doing well.



The impacts and implications of all these changes to the airline industry and how they will affect Caribbean tourism were the focus of the Marketing Workshop, hosted by the CTO Allied Members and the Association of Travel Marketing Executives (ATME).



The Marketing Workshop featured a panel of key airline industry executives, including Marc Cavaliere, vice president of sales and distribution for Spirit Airlines; Phil Olivieri, American Airlines` and American Eagle`s managing director for the Caribbean; and Brice Willis, director of route planning for Delta Airlines. Hon. Aloun Assamba, the minister of tourism for Jamaica, Hon. Philip J. Pierre, St. Lucia`s minister of tourism and Terestella Gonzalez-Denton, the executive director of Puerto Rico Tourism Company will share their insights from a destination`s standpoint on this stimulating topic. Paul Zar, vice president of GoGo Worldwide Vacations revealed how this matter relates to, and will impact on, tour operators doing business in the Caribbean.



The workshop followed by an afternoon awards luncheon, sponsored by American Express Publishing, New York Magazine and the Jamaica Tourist Board.

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