The Caribbean’s presence was strong in Bogotá, Colombia during Routes Americas 2024, the route development forum for the Americas.

Held last week, the conference attracted several Caribbean destinations, whose executives connected with senior decision-makers from the region’s leading airlines and other tourism and aviation stakeholders. A panel discussion on ‘Aviation Competitiveness in the Caribbean’ provided much food for thought in addressing some of the key challenges facing the region’s aviation sector.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) played a lead role in orchestrating the powerful discussion, which featured Dr. Kenneth Romer (Deputy Director General of Tourism & Director of Aviation, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation); Trevor Sadler (CEO, interCaribbean Airways); Hans van de Velde (CEO, Windward Islands Airways International – WINAIR); Rafael Echevarne (Director General, Latin America & Caribbean, Airports Council International – ACI); and Peter Cerdá (Regional Vice President, The Americas, International Air Transport Association – IATA), with David Appleby (Director, ASM) moderating.

Panelists discussed the high taxation and fees in the region, with some arguing that reducing these could increase demand and make travel more affordable. They also discussed the need for more deregulation and liberalization of the skies, and the potential for designating the Caribbean as a single domestic market.

The role of state-owned carriers was also debated as well as the need for more public-private partnerships to enhance infrastructure and technology.