BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday September 30, 2015 – Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Hugh Riley has urged regional authorities to institute an Open Skies policy and, wherever possible, eliminate secondary screening at Caribbean airports.
He argues that an Open Skies policy would allow regional carriers to take unlimited flights to all Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states and encourage the growth of competition among carriers, while elimination of secondary screening would encourage greater demand for intra-regional travel.
Riley has also called for improved interline arrangements for a “vastly enhanced” baggage transfer and improved passenger experience and collaboration in a number of areas, including intelligence sharing with the use of the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS), and security processing.
“Cooperation in these areas will encourage and facilitate greater investment by airlines into and across the Caribbean region. Better connectivity means greater economic benefits,” the secretary general said in an address at the recent airline route development forum, World Routes 2015 in Durban, South Africa.
Citing the post-September 11 television campaign in the United States, ‘Life Needs the Caribbean’, and the 2007 Cricket Work Cup as examples, Riley said the Caribbean has shown its ability to put effective regional strategies in place and can do the same to grow travel into and throughout the region.
“This type of cooperation and collaboration needs to be the standard practice in serving the region’s various tourism needs,” he said.
Riley added that it was important to finalize and implement the amended Multilateral Air Services Agreement; facilitate unlimited third, fourth, and fifth freedom of traffic rights for scheduled passenger services from and between international airports and sub-regions within CARICOM and establish a CARICOM Single Domestic Air Space to help generate additional international traveller demand which, in turn, will encourage airlines to establish routes to the region.
The CTO boss contended that unnecessarily lengthy policy development and slow implementation processes in these areas, hinder progress.
Riley attended the World Route Development Forum – which attracts senior representatives from airlines, airports and tourism authorities who meet to plan and discuss new and existing global air services – to elevate the Caribbean brand, explore opportunities for the Caribbean, present the prospects for expansion and improvement of connectivity within the Caribbean, and discuss challenges facing regional and global aviation and offering solutions.
“I was pleased with the extremely high quality of the interactions we made in Durban and the level of interest there is in the Caribbean: interest in exploring the tourism potential between the Caribbean and Africa, as well as expanding into other non-traditional markets. I fully expect that contacts we made here will redound to the benefit of Caribbean tourism in general and CTO’s member-countries in particular,” he said.