Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins, speaking at the first Barbados Aviation Industry Forum at Hilton Barbados yesterday. (GP)

Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins, has stated that there is a “high-level” vision for Barbados’ tourism sector, especially aviation.

Speaking during the Ministry’s hosting of the first Barbados Aviation Industry Forum at the Hilton Barbados on Monday, the Ministry enlightened stakeholders, staff, and the media about the way forward for the industry in a post-COVID environment.

“I want us as partners to take that high-level view of flying over a country as we craft a vision for aviation because often times looking down and seeing it all laid out before us gives us a perspective that we cannot see when we are on the ground dealing only with practical day to day routine matters.

“We cannot be limited by seeing only that which is right before us and our immediate needs as we see them now at the expense of that long-range view that oftentimes forces us to see where we are more clearly and objectively; gets us uncomfortable with where we are, and forces us in this room to be agents of change and transformation,” Minister Cummins stated.  

Questioning if now was the “right” moment for the transformation of the sector, the Minister responded in the affirmative, and shared that it was possible, based on assessments seen in aviation sectors across the world. 

She said the success would depend on the government giving the initial injection and creating the necessary regulatory transformation, which should then evolve, based on an aggressive private sector taking risks, embracing technology, and being willing to be transformational.

Senator Cummins shared that back in 2020 an aviation team was created to develop a framework for the sector in Barbados to improve and position it for the future. 

She mentioned that one of the main initiatives towards achieving that goal was the creation of the Barbados Aviation Centre of Excellence (BACE) proposal, which will look at enhancing aviation, including air transportation; position Barbados as a cargo hub; develop new business and aviation services, for example, maintenance and repair operations for planes; improve dedicated fast track and VIP services.

“But beyond what we have been working on for aviation, we also need to look at the broader logistics position we want to assume in the Southern Caribbean. We already look at how people move seamlessly in air-to-sea corridor for cruise tourism. What is our opportunity to create a new model for integrating maritime cargo and air cargo also as a seamless model?

“We are committed to getting there and that is why you see the GAIA and the Bridgetown Port along with Caribbean Aircraft Handling along with BAASEC in close collaboration along with our consultants on our logistics framework, anchored by world class and sea ports. We are taking that high level view and I need you, the leaders in this room from the public and private sectors to walk that road with us,” Minister Cummins emphasised. 

She also noted that now is the time to relook having a regional carrier that can service all Caribbean destinations similar to how Singapore Airlines developed itself over the last 24 plus years, and as Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, she has requested that a regional meeting with all Tourism Ministers in advance of a forum in partnership with International Air Transport Association (IATA) be hosted in September.

At that meeting, regional tourism ministers will have an opportunity to discuss the challenges of regional travel and the impact it is having on movement within the community, and on our respective domestic tourism sectors that will be the precursor for the September meeting with IATA on Aviation Day.

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