IATA warns the Caribbean against the risk of withdrawing from the travel market

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned Caribbean destinations on Wednesday that they “run the risk of being squeezed out of the global travel and tourism market where passengers have more choices than ever before.”

IATA Vice President for the Americas Peter Cerdá told the Caribbean Aviation Day conference that the region “must remain an attractive tourist destination”, adding that it is often difficult to see the correlation between aviation costs and the service provided.

He told the conference that the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) predicts a possible annual increase in travel and tourism GDP of 6.7% between 2022 and 2023 if the right policies are implemented.

Cerdá said that as the world emerges from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the good news is that people want to travel and that is very clear by the ongoing recovery.

“Global air passenger traffic has reached 74.6% of pre-crisis levels,” Cerdá said at the event, which is being held under the theme “Recover, Reconnect, Relaunch.”

“A recurring theme is also taxes and charges levied on aviation. Yes, we understand that providing adequate infrastructure for aviation has a cost, but very often it is difficult to see the correlation between the level of costs and charges and the actual service provided,” Cerdá said.

To illustrate his point, Cerdá said that in some Caribbean destinations, if passengers do not arrive during “regular” local business hours, airlines are charged significant overtime fees for each passenger at process through immigration and customs.

“Aviation is not a 9 to 5 business. Global connectivity is permanent. This process is simply unacceptable and does not make sense because these same passengers are the ones who stay in local hotels, eat in restaurants locals and fuel local economies, regardless of what time they arrive. So why penalize and charge additional fees to the airlines that carry these passengers?” says Cerda.

“Why not change mentalities and adjust customs staff accordingly and attract more airlines to the market?”

He said taxes and fees added to airfares significantly increase the cost of air travel to and from the region.

“For comparison, globally taxes and fees are around 15% of the ticket price and in the Caribbean the average is double to around 30% of the ticket price,” Cerdá said, adding that on some markets. , taxes, fees and charges are half of the total ticket price.

He said that for flights from Barbados to Barbuda, taxes and fees are 56% of the ticket price, and 42% from the Bahamas to Jamaica, as well as from Saint Lucia to Trinidad and Tobago.

To fly from Port of Spain to Barbados, taxes and fees are 40% of the ticket price.

“In comparison, from Lima, Peru, to Cancun, Mexico, another beach destination, taxes and fees are only 23%,” Cerdá said.

“Today’s passengers have a choice and as the total cost of vacations becomes more and more of a decision factor, governments must be careful not to foreclose on the market,” he said.

The IATA vice-president said an eight-day vacation flight from London to Bridgetown in October costs around $800. However, a flight from London to Dubai for the same period costs US$600.

“For a family of four, it’s an $800 difference just for the flights,” he said, noting that from Miami to Antigua it costs about $900 for a round-trip ticket to the same dates in October, but from Miami to Cancun on average. around $310 for a return ticket.

“Again, for a family of four, that’s a total difference of over $2,000 for flights alone,” Cerda said.

He said demand for air travel is close to reaching pre-pandemic levels “but to support a sustainable aviation sector as an integral part of the tourism value chain, we need that governments cooperate with each other and with industry”.