OCHO RIOS, Jamaica -- A Caribbean Investment Fund should be created
to finance a regional airline and an areawide marketing program,
government and industry officials said at the second annual
Caribbean Hotel & Investment Conference here.
Keynote speaker Basdeo Panday, prime minister of Trinidad &
Tobago, recommended that Caribbean governments establish "a formal
consortia to generate and sustain funding for a regional marketing
program and a dedicated regional air service." Panday pointed out
that the Caribbean anticipates 28 million stayover arrivals by
2010. "None of us can afford to continue to wring our hands as our
only response to the pressing problems of air supply and regional
promotion," Panday said.
Although Horace Hord, American Airlines' director for the
Atlantic and Caribbean, admitted that "the last thing I want to see
is a Caribbean airline," he said that the region faces a major
challenge if demand is not created for other carriers to serve the
islands. Hord urged governments to make a "concerted effort" to
reinvest in their own destinations.
Percival J. Patterson, prime minister of Jamaica, said factors
such as the globalization of the resort business and increased
interest in U.S. domestic travel make it imperative that the
Caribbean "attract substantial sums of money" to refurbish
properties and build new hotels. He described a Caribbean
Investment Fund as "a profit-making, private-sector vehicle able to
distribute funds to its shareholders."
The conference was sponsored by the Caribbean Hotel Association
and Caribbean Tourism Organization. More than 250 delegates
attended this year's gathering.