Forstmayr: Faulty Air Network Cost Caribbean One Million Visitors
By Brian Major
June 17, 2012 9:30 PM
The Caribbean region’s “total lack of a comprehensive, user-friendly transportation network” has had a devastating impact on Intra-Caribbean travel, which declined by two-thirds between 2006 and 2010, according to Josef Forstmayr, president of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA).
In his opening address at the inaugural Caribbean Tourism Summit and Outlook Seminar in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Forstmayr said “excessive intra-Caribbean airfares” and the lack of “an effective regional transportation network” are behind the intra-Caribbean travel downturn. He said regional destinations have lost more one million visitors due to the decline.
“I thank all of you who took out a mortgage to pay for the airfare to be with us here today,” he joked with attendees at the conference, which was sponsored by CHTA, the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Jamaica Tourist Board. Turning serious, he said the lack of an affordable and effective regional transportation network “is not only having a significant negative effect on our tourism but also on the West Indian culture and way of life.”
Forstmayr said CHTA will continue to advocate for improvements in the Caribbean’s air transportation network through its “Tourism is Key” program, which includes government- and privately directed initiatives to advocate for improved airlift and reduced bureaucracy in regional air travel; and promote tourism’s links to local industry, agriculture and services; and promote regional marketing.
He also cited research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) that, he said, “demonstrates the substantial economic contribution that travel and tourism contributes to the world's economies,” and decried the “damaging” effect of “over-taxation and regulation levies” on the travel industry.