Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
FRIGATE, St. Kitts and Nevis:
An airline taskforce is to be named within the next 30 days by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), specifically to address the challenges of airlift in the region.
CTO chairman, Beverly Doty, made the announcement at a press briefing during a ‘State of the Industry Conference’ at the Marriott Hotel in St. Kitts this morning.
"It is clear that airlift is regionally important and critical to the future of the economy," the CTO chairman told the gathering, 24 hours after taking office
The recommendation to establish the task force comes a day after CTO's director of research, Winfield Griffin revealed that in the past 10 years, 10 airlines have been started in the region, but have since collapsed.
Outlining a number of immediate objectives that will define her two-year tenure, the new CTO chairman said the removal of travel restrictions; sustainable development and a continuation of the campaign against the discriminatory Air Passenger Duty (APD) were at the top of her priority list.
A regional marketing effort, which has struggled to take flight, completes the list of priorities by the woman who heads tourism in the United States Virgin Islands.
"We have ample intelligence to develop on a goal. In relation to the removal of travel restrictions, we are talking about customs and immigration, safety and security too, to assist the traveler to experience a smoother travel in the region," said Doty.
She said the strategy on the APD, remains in place and the organisation had questions for the British government on the tax.
"We are questioning the way it is tiered, and the 300 per cent increase that it has attracted in the last three years".
Immediate past CTO chairman, Senator Ricky Skerritt backed Doty's suggestions, saying there was a threshold beyond which the APD becomes ridiculous.