CDB president calls for greater connectivity and more innovative tourism

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Dr Gene Leon, President of the CDB

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The region’s institutions and governments must work together to offer an innovative tourism product, that can support diverse economic activity and fuel economic growth in the longer term while also generating demand and enabling expansion says president of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr Hyginus “Gene” Leon.

Speaking at the 4th Caribbean Aviation Day on September 14, Dr Leon advanced some recommendations to combat the ongoing challenges of regional connectivity focused on the aviation industry.

Noting the commitment of states to address some issues related to regional travel, he indicated that greater investment in the sector is needed. This investment, which should be comprehensive and sustained, will support broader efforts by the Bank and governments to increase economic resilience, strengthen trade and positively impact the lives of Caribbean people.

“There is only one problem that we need to solve and that one problem we can loosely define as sustainable livelihoods of the people of the region,” he stated. Further adding that there was a need for investment in operational and other aspects of the travel industry. This required appropriate financing mechanisms which would accommodate the cycles of the aviation industry, the establishment of an enabling environment with the requisite multilateral agreements in force alongside the strategic development of the sector and the institutionalisation of sufficient safeguards to ensure its sustainability.

During the session entitled “Transforming Regional Connectivity: The Role of the Private Sector in Financing Intra-Regional Travel” the President emphasised the symbiotic relationship and importance of physical, digital, and cultural connectivity to the region’s resilience ecosystem. “The solution of the whole is through connectivity… we have an immediate problem that needs to be addressed,” he stated.

According to Dr Leon, Caribbean institutions must urgently treat with the issue of connectivity beyond throwing money at the problem which he described as a short-term fix. In advocating for a broader approach to enable industrywide resilience in aviation and the region’s people, CDB’s president pressed for broader initiatives beyond investment in aviation in the longer term including the pursuit of innovative tourism, the provision of a more diversified product supported by an education system which would promote all areas of the sector and genuinely make tourism a pillar of development.

While reliable, cost-effective air transportation is vital for the Caribbean’s tourism and hospitality industries and economies; a new paradigm is necessary for viable, sustainable intra-regional air services. CDB continues to promote innovative options and beneficial partnerships for financing and managing regional air transportation in circumstances where air travel has become inconvenient, costly with limited overall connectivity.

IATA’s Caribbean Aviation Day addressed various issues around aviation sustainability and multi-destination tourism, with the aim of identifying opportunities to jointly rebuild a more competitive air transport sector.

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