Minister of Tourism, Hon. Obie Wilchcombe Addresses UN World Tourism Organization Conference in Haiti

Minister of Tourism, Honourable Obie Wilchcombe, pauses to take a photo at the UN WTO Conference on “Multi Destinational Opportunities for Regional Integration” with the Minister of Tourism & Creative Industries for the Republic of Haiti, Honourable Stephanie Balmir Villedrouin. 

Minister of Tourism, Honourable Obadiah Wilchcombe, at the invitation of Mr. Tateb Rifai, Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), was one of the featured speakers at the recently held UNWTO conference on “Multi Destinational Opportunties for Regional Integration in Port au Prince, Haiti.

The conference was attended by Ministers of Tourism from throughout the World, Thought Leaders in Tourism (including Donald Hawkins, Eisenhower Professor of Tourism Policy, George Washington University), prominent Hoteliers, Bankers and representatives of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the Caribbean Development Bank and the Organization of American States.

Minister Wilchcombe, in a very well received presentation, shared with delegates an incisive analysis of the high volume of international seat capacity (26.9 million seats per year) to the Caribbean from the U.S., Canada, Europe, South America, Central America and Africa.  Rather than focusing on the numerous impediments to multi destinational integration within the Caribbean (like onerous visa requirements from country to country, lack of infrastructure and the lack of critical mass of population), Minister Wilchcombe opined that there are concrete steps which could be taken to build upon opportunities that already exist. 

In addition to the 26.9 million international air seats to the Caribbean, Minister Wilchcombe also shared a detailed analysis with delegates of the 1.6 million per year seat network within the Caribbean Region itself.   He felt that this volume of seats provided a platform for individual Caribbean countries to negotiate bi-lateral airlift agreements to secure the strategic airlift access that they need.

“The economics of air travel have changed very radically in the past few years,” Minister Wilchcombe advised delegates.  “Airlines are now almost singularly focused on maximizing profitability.  They have effectively harnessed the growth of seat capacity, even in the face of very high load factors, in order to sustain acceptable yield levels.  Consequently, tourism destinations have experienced no traffic growth in cases where such growth would have occurred holistically due to higher seat capacity spurred by very good load factor performance.  Today, the airlift paradigm has shifted.  Yesterday’s scenario no longer applies.  Tourism planners must, of necessity, become more creative.  These impediments, fellow Delegates, are real.  And they are in front of us every day.”

Minister Wilchcombe also briefly highlighted the success of Grand Bahama Island in tapping into sea arrivals from the Celebration and Balearia to boost room night growth by way of “cruise & stay” packages. 

“In conclusion,” stated Minister Wilchcombe, “The Government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is a firm believer that the multi-destinational opportunities for regional integration are as huge as they are real.”

Media Contact: Anita Johnson-Patty | Bahamas Ministry of Tourism | ajohnson@bahamas.com