The newly appointed CEO of LIAT believes a reduction in taxation on intra-regional travel will help increase revenues for the governments of the Caribbean and give customers a fairer deal.
David Evans, who assumed leadership duties on April 22, 2014, acknowledged taxes are important to reinvest in aviation infrastructure, but he would like to see governments fully examine the overall economic and social impact of LIAT.
Speaking on the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Destination Caribbean – a series of live, regional broadcasts on the importance of Caribbean tourism – Evans, a former British Airways executive, stated that the Caribbean tax burden is not significantly high compared with other parts of the world, but he suggested that a lighter taxation regime will stimulate greater demand and an increase in the “tax take” back to the government.
He contended that for every LIAT employee, four additional jobs in the aviation supply chain are created.
“We spend approximately US$12.5 million a year here in Barbados, but all those jobs we create spend a further $25 million and most of that is, of course, taxable revenue to the government,” said Evans, who joined Elizabeth Scotton, Chief Commercial Officer, Sangster International Airport, Jamaica; Neville Boxhill, Aviation Consultant, Barbados Tourism Authority; and Economist Ryan Straughn during the lively television discussion, which aired across the region on the Caribbean Media Corporation.
“LIAT is worth – outside of its airline activity – well over US$100 million annually to the region in terms of the jobs it creates and the impact that it has on tourism,” declared Evans who assured viewers that meeting increased demand with more capacity was not a major hurdle. “Any airline faced with increasing demand will be happy with that situation and it would find a way either in its own right or in some sort of a cooperative fashion in order to provide that extra supply or capacity.”
Meanwhile, the LIAT CEO sees a real opportunity for collaboration among regional carriers. “Whilst competition is absolutely essential, there is more we can do in cooperation with each other than we are doing at the moment.”
Looking ahead, Evans stated that LIAT is well positioned to increase connectivity to and from other regional and international carriers, thereby increasing the volume of traffic and returning benefits back to governments.