(Soualiga Newsday) SIMPSON BAY, SINT MAARTEN – Without exaggeration, the upcoming Caribbean Aviation Meetup in St. Maarten may be called the most significant and largest airlift conference ever held in the Caribbean. The numbers speak for themselves; thirty highly qualified professionals making thirty presentations spread over three days.
Conference participants are coming from 28 countries and territories being: Anguilla, Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Commonwealth of Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Jamaica, Luxemburg, Nevis, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Saba, St. Barth, St. Eustatius, St. Lucia, St. Maarten/St. Martin, St. Vincent, Suriname, Switzerland, Trinidad, Turks & Caicos, UK, USA, and US Virgin Islands.
Airlift is not just an aviation or airline matter. Its impact is vital for any economy. The number of tourists who are flying to visit a destination determine the overnight stays. The overnight stays are related how many rooms are occupied, how many restaurants are visited and how many days cars are rented. It is therefore that this conference gathers stakeholders from both aviation and tourism industries.
The Caribbean Aviation Meetup sets itself apart from any other political summit or industry association meeting that emphasizes one particular theme or subject only, be it airline routing, tourism sustainability, or a business sector. These meetings often miss an important point. If one focusses on one segment but cannot bring it in the perspective to other segments, then it becomes a matter of, popularly said, the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing. Problems do not get solved effectively; they may even become more complicated. Departmental thinking may have an isolating effect.
Exactly that it is why it is important to have a conference platform where stakeholders from aviation and tourism industries, as well government agencies and politicians gather. The purpose of the Caribbean Aviation Meetup is to bring parties from all industry perspectives and geographical areas together. The presentations have different objectives. For one, each of them is the introduction to what might be further discussed during the conference. Some of presentations offer new ideas and food for thought. Others may be informing, explaining, or educational.
The conference will start with an opening reception in “St. Maarten Culture Style” sponsored by the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau on behalf of the Government of St. Maarten. The conference itself is hosted Princess Juliana International Airport – SXM Airport. During the Award Evening, the winner of the “Most Scenic Airport Landing in the World” contest will be celebrated. Four outstanding performances in Business Aviation will be honored with a Sapphire Pegasus Award.
On the first conference day, plenary sessions will be held. On the second and third day, there will be two parallel streams of break-out sessions. The presentations include the following:
“Leadership in aviation”, “What the Caribbean needs to pay attention to”, “Private aircraft charter and its luxury tourism clientele”, “Airport hub partnership”, “US Customs and Immigration Pre-Clearance”, “Taxation; airline passengers and tourists”, “Seaplanes in the Caribbean; potential for airlift and as tourism product”, “International Media Panel Discussion on aviation and travel”, “Inter-Island Tourism”, “Regional Airline Development”, “How simple and efficient IT operations drive great results”, “Tourism Development in Suriname”, “Decision making in aviation based on gathered data and intelligence”, “A new model for a private-sector airline in the Caribbean”, “Luxury Tourism”, “Presentation of aircraft and models”, “Merchandising concept combining efforts of airlines, airports and hotels”, “Airport and airline route planning”, “Aviation and airport safety – compliance with ICAO”, “Trip Planning in Business and Private Aviation”, “Disaster planning under volcanic and hurricane conditions”, “The Use of VVIP Helicopters in the Caribbean”, “Managing Aviation Safety in the Growing Caribbean Region”, “International Air Rally to the Caribbean”, “Airport Development and Construction”, “Why and how airlines, resorts and tourism boards should cooperate for a common goal”, “Solutions for Inter-Island Airlift in the Caribbean”, “FBO safety and FBO staff training”.
On Wednesday afternoon of the conference, there will be Airport Terminal and Air Traffic Control Tower tours, as well as a Static Display of four Aircraft.
A factory-new seaplane will be flown in from Wichita Kansas by the US aircraft manufacturer Cessna/ Textron. The airplane will be available for demonstrations and splash landings in St. Maarten, Anguilla and Nevis.
During the conference the potential future founding of a Caribbean Aviation Association or Caribbean Airlift Council will be discussed in informal meetings. An independent and impartial entity is considered desirable to provide professional expertise, coordination, and mediation in order to solve dilemmas and streamline procedures as well as for assistance in initiating and planning projects in the region. The entity may serve both aviation and tourism industries, but also government authorities.