WTTC says it’s time for a regional airline

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

Julia Simpson, the president of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), believes it’s time for the Caribbean to have its own airline.

“I know it’s been discussed for many many years but the Caribbean needs to act as an entity to build capacity (that will) benefit everyone. Demand is there and I believe investors are there too,” said Simpson, while delivering a special message to attendees of the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Caribbean Aviation Day in the Cayman Islands last week.

Simpson also called for lower air taxes to drive business and investment. “We know that this stimulates customer demand while making it more commercially viable for the airlines to operate,” said Simpson as she showered praise on the Government of Antigua and Barbuda for announcing a 50 percent reduction in taxes on airline tickets for travel within several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.

“More countries need to follow in these footsteps. In fact, by the Caribbean adopting some common policies, it will make the whole of the region much more powerful,” she stated.

Senator Lisa Cummins, Barbados’ Minister of Tourism and International Transport, brought energy and optimism to the recent Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) meetings in the Cayman Islands, where she updated the media on the island’s tourism progress following a difficult pandemic period.

The minister reported that despite global airlift challenges, Barbados is forecast to return to 80 percent of 2019 visitation levels by the end of this year, a conservative estimate, she explained.

While all of Barbados’ source markets have shown a relatively consistent recovery pattern since traffic began returning in mid-2021, the U.K. has been the strongest performer this year.

Ensuring that resilience is built into the destination’s recovery strategy, Barbados is making a push into emerging markets such as Latin America, while continuing to strengthen lift from traditional markets in Europe and North America.

The minister reported that Wyndham Sam Lord’s Castle will open this December and spoke of the impressive performance of the Sandals Barbados and Sandals Royal Barbados properties.

The Barbados tourism minister announced the cruise sector was returning in a meaningful way, with a promising winter season on the horizon.