PHILIPSBURG–Organiser of the recently-concluded Aviation Caribbean Meetup Bud Slabbaert wanted to wait a week after the event concluded before coming out with a statement about the success of the three-day conference.
This year’s Meetup was a regional conference with international ambitions. The participant from the farthest away, New Zealand, made a 33-hour trip to get to conference and several participants came from Europe. In total 20 countries and territories were represented. Next year it will be a full-fledged international conference for the benefit of the region.
There is already serious interest of companies and organisations in Germany, Norway, Israel, Colombia, Belize and Brazil to send representatives. Because of the “globalisation,” one has to look ahead to set a date and examine what other international conferences are held in the industry, to avoid conflicts of interest.
The dates for the third Caribbean Aviation Meetup will be June 12-14, 2018. What also underline the success of an event are the inquiries by countries whether it could be hosted in their countries. Currently there are inquiries from the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and St. Maarten.
Two companies that came to the event to explore the opportunities in the Caribbean have decided to establish an operation or branch in the region. Immediately following the conference, the executive of one of them has submitted a company internal 16-page report on the findings and information gathered during the conference. If the person had not seen an opportunity it would only have been a one-page report in essence saying, “Forget it.”
“The question remains where these companies are willing to settle. In order to explore such, the various islands should have competent networkers from both the public and private sectors at the conference. This exploration and evaluation will again happen next year by other companies from abroad. At this year’s conference, two airports in the region had decided to send six and more staff members because of the educational content and value of the conference’s presentations,” said Slabbaert.
“Government officials cannot always afford the time away from the office, or their institution cannot cover the expense of sending several of its staff members. And so, the transportation department of Caricom [Caribbean Community – Ed.] which is located at their headquarters in Guyana, inquired if it was possible to follow the conference through online streaming.
“That is something that will be looked into for next year, because it is important that the conference content will be disseminated as widely as possible for the benefit of the region. But the inquiry itself shows the growing importance of Meetup.”