By Sarah Peter
Special To NAN
News Americas, PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten, Mon. June 26, 2017: The method in which countries determine the economic impact of tourism arrivals is flawed.
That’s the word from former Bahamian Tourism Minister and Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Vincent Vanderpool -Wallace, who made the statement at the just-concluded 2017 Caribbean Aviation Meet Up that was held in St Maarteen from June 12th to 14th.
The former tourism executive compared the present measurement to counting the number of persons entering a supermarket and argued that the number of persons that may come in to a destination may not necessarily reflect the amount of money being spent there.
“I call it the mismanagement of tourism,” said Vanderpool-Wallace. “Because what we have been doing for a long time is counting heads in terms of how many people are coming to the country, which is not a good measurement of the economic impact of people and quite frankly for a period of time we did it because we did not have any other choice .”
But, he added, “You never see any financial statements of any company based on how many people came to their doors. Nobody looks at a bank’s statement and sees how many people come to the bank for the year. Really what matters is the transactions. “
“We now have the capacity to do those transactions through some very good economic tools, for example tourism satellite account, so you can now begin to capture information that guides you so you can maximize the economic benefit of tourism,” said the former Bahamian Tourism Minister.
He further described taxes on airline tickets to tourism officials shooting themselves in the heads and claimed it is a disincentive to prospective customers while urging regional officials to reconsider this decision.
Vanderpool-Wallace’s statements were echoed by the organizer of the event, Bud Slabbaert, who argued that the cost of tickets continues to be a concern for some visitors.
“Pricing is definitely a concern because people only have a certain budget,” said Slabbaert, while further criticizing what he says is the perception that some persons are going to pay the fares irrespective of the prices “because they are tourists.”
Slabbaert further contended that government needs to find a different approach to attaining revenue as opposed to taxing the same people they are trying to attract to their countries.
He maintains that other than pricing, the service provided by some airlines in the region is distasteful .
“You hear people complain about it all the time,” he said. “I do not what to name a particular airline but people are really not happy with what flight connections are being offered and it’s not only the connection, it is also the prices and the times that they can fly.
“It’s almost ridiculous! For instance if you want to go to the Bahamas from St. Lucia, you might be traveling all day at a high price compared to flying from St. Marteen to Paris, which can be done within the same time frame at the same price or at a lower price ”
The 2017 Caribbean Aviation Meet up was deemed a major success by organizers and attendees and was described as an imperative meeting for airlift stakeholders in the Caribbean. It was attended by international tourism and aviation officials from all over the world.
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