The Adrian Loveridge Column – Overcooking the Golden Goose

I was fortunate enough to attend the very first Caribbean Aviation Meet-Up hosted in Dominica during 2016 and use the word ‘fortunate’ without reservation, as even after over 50 years being deeply involved in a wide range of tourism ventures still found the event refreshingly informative and frankly, inspirational.

The 4th annual Caribbean Aviation Meet-Up will take place on St. Maarten at the Simpson Bay Resort from 11th – 13th June.

Their website describes it ‘as the largest and most significant international conference for stakeholders in the Caribbean region’ and a ‘results orientated platform between the various stakeholders in the aviation, tourism and investment industries. The focus of the conference is on experienced exchange, interaction and participation’.

For a long time, I have held the view that all business owners, directors and decision making manager’s, have to occasionally step away and look back from their own involvement and maybe clear their minds by listening to other views, if they wish to remain totally objective, whether their company is small or large. This is one such event that we can learn from each other and implement new ideas and concepts which will take the tourism industry forward.

Already a whole host of guest speakers are scheduled to make presentations, including universally acknowledged experts like Vincent Vanderpool -Wallace CBE., who was highlighted as one of the 50 most influential people in Caribbean tourism over the last 50 years.

All the names and particular specialities are too lengthy to list here but a click onto their website (www.caribavia.com) will give some indication. A particular area of interest to me is the presenter representing JAMVAC, the Government agency formed to spearhead airline growth in Jamaica.  Dubbed the 5-5-5 concept, its primary objective is to build airlift into that country by 5 per cent over the next five years to 5 million arrivals.

If we need any better example then it is long overdue that we find regional solutions to Caribbean airlift, it has to be LIAT (1974) Ltd.  Despite, the Caribbean’s overwhelming economic dependency on tourism, here we are 45 years after the company’s re-formation and ‘we’ are still looking for meaningful and sustainable solutions. Factor in that existing Government’s seemingly cannot achieve this goal, even when extracting around 50 per of the ticket prices in various taxes.

In reality when you consider all the other charges levied by airport usage and associated operational costs, is it even remotely surprising that once again we are on the brink of losing an essential intra-regional carrier?

My sincere hope is that some viable alternatives will be put forward at this year’s event. My tiny contribution will be to suggest supplementary ways that we can generate greater capacity and affordable choices, which will not further drain or deter our taxpayers, regional travellers and overseas visitors. Having witnessed dramatic tax rises across the tourism industry, mostly paid by our visitors over the last few months, I believe we are in serious danger of over cooking the golden goose.

3 comments

  • Robert MacDonald

    Adrian: You hit the nail on the head when you said that we are in serious danger of over cooking the golden goose. I have been visiting Barbados for over 50 years. As my disposal income grew so did the amount of time I spent in Barbados. I am now in the last two years starting to spend less time. The sewage situation has not helped but the increased air fare due increased tax has contributed , has as increased food and local transportation. A factor over which none of us has any control is the weather, it seems to be changing.
    I am not an expert on the running of an airline but it appears there is too much political interference in the operation of LIAT, perhaps leasing the operation to outside professionals on a commission basis may produce a cost effective product. I know operating an airline is a risky business but it appears by past history that the Caribbean is a classic example.

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  • The sole source of LIAT’s problems originate with the excessive taxes & charges that governments impose on tickets. If 50%, or more sometimes, of a ticket does not go to LIAT … what do you expect?

    If the governments would reduce these taxes & charges, then ticket cost would decline but LIAT would still receive the same dollar amount per ticket !!! More importantly however, the number of persons purchasing tickets would now increase!! This would greatly benefit LIAT and governments would also ‘get their money’ in the long run.

    Its not rocket science…… why can’t our money hungry governments see that lower fares would result in increase travel numbers?? Even if they think its ‘too big a risk’…… try it for a period and see what happens…….. else LIAT will remain a money pit and nothing will change!!

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  • @ks

    How do you expect the governments to service the loans taken out to build those fancy airports?

    Like

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