MADRID, SPAIN - Tourism Minister, Hon Edmund Bartlett has announced that Jamaica and the Republic of Panama have signed a multi-destination arrangement, as part of efforts to strengthen tourism relations between both countries.
The agreement was signed today during FITUR, the largest International Tourism Trade Fair for inbound and outbound Ibero-American markets, currently underway in Spain.
Jamaica has previously signed similar agreements with Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Mexico, to advance regional integration by fostering and harmonising legislation on air connectivity, visa facilitation, product development, marketing and human capital development.
"The signing of the agreement today with Panama brings us to five countries in the North-Western Caribbean that have now developed an arrangement for convergence of their marketing and airlift arrangements.
This is a huge development for tourism’s growth and expansion in the Caribbean area, as it now brings five of the largest markets in the region together,” said Minister Bartlett.
The convergence of the five countries is expected to create a market of over 60 million potential visitors and will be promoted as a package, through the respective tourist boards to large tour operators, airlines and cruise-lines.
“This agreement creates a mega-market that will now be able to attract the big airlines, the large tour operators but more importantly we will be able to entice the new emerging markets of the far distances of Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.
These distant markets will be able to come into the Caribbean area, enjoy many of the experiences at a packed deal, and can seamlessly through the areas,” said the Minister.
The multi-destination tourism is a strategy the Tourism Ministry has been using to increase the product offerings of the respective destinations but more so to enable better air connectivity between markets particularly, for long haul destinations.
With this multi destination arrangement, Panama will become a hub for long haul flights and Emirates and Air China are among the two targeted carriers. It also covers how Jamaica can better leverage the Jamaican Diaspora, which has contributed to the cultural enrichment of Panama.
“A feature of this agreement will be to look at rationalizing infrastructure arrangements, particularly where visitor facilitation is concerned.
Therefore, we will be looking at a single visa regime, for example one that will allow us to have domestic space within the five countries that are involved, for tourism purposes only,” said the Minister.
“We could also look at the possibility of a single airspace, for airlines that are coming into servicing these areas will not have to pay five or six different fees in relation to five or six different airspaces, but a single fee that will cover all. The prospects of this is a game-changer for tourism development in the North-Western Caribbean,” he added.
The final aspect of this agreement will be the strengthening of resilience building in the region, which will include the establishment of a satellite Global Resilience and Crisis Management Centre at an agreed university in Panama.
Jamaica has had diplomatic relations with Panama since 1966. Currently, COPA Airlines, which is the flag carrier of Panama, operates eleven (11) flights weekly into Jamaica.
Tourism Minister Hon. Edmund Bartlett (centre) delivers brief remarks following the signing of a multi-destination agreement with Panama, as part of efforts to strengthen tourism relations between both countries. Sharing in the moment are Minister of Tourism for the Republic of Panama, Hon. Ivan Eskildsen Alfaro (right) and Hon, Miguel Torruco Marques, Secretary of Tourism of the Government of Mexico.