KINGSTON, JAMAICA - Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett has underscored that the addition of new flights into the island out of key markets is crucial to the tourism recovery effort, as Jamaica welcomed flights out of the Canadian and European travel markets yesterday.
In just 4 hours on Sunday (July 4), Jamaica witnessed the return of Air Canada from the Canadian market and Condor from Frankfurt, Germany with a Swiss flight out of Zurich, operated by Edelweiss Air, scheduled for Monday evening, all landing at the Sangster International Airport. Minister Bartlett welcomed their arrival which he said was “very important to the tourism recovery effort” following the global shut down of international air travel due to COVID-19.
Air Canada is back after six months with a weekly flight using its Dreamliner aircraft and a plan to go daily soon, while Condor’s rotation is twice weekly until September and the Zurich flight is a first for direct flights between the two cities.
The Minister said these points underscored “that Jamaica’s management of the pandemic and indeed the quality of the product that we have maintained and the connectivity that we have preserved during this interim period, have done us well” and recovery was taking place even faster than had been anticipated.
Minister Bartlett pointed out that in the last three months weekend arrivals have been significant with an average of 15,000 visitors over a three-day period, and with new flights coming in the numbers will increase significantly with the projection for the year now at approximately 1.8 million.
This, he added, meant that jobs and revenue flow were coming back at a faster rate than anticipated. “We’re excited at the prospect therefore of continued growth and I reiterate that the continued development of the industry, the growth of our economy and the resumption of jobs is a function of the responsibility of all of us and we must continue to observe protocols, uphold the principles of good management of the entire area, including the Resilient Corridors which have proven to be one of the powerful marketing tools for Jamaica.”
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) has played a major role in marketing the flights and JTB’s Regional Director for Canada, Angella Bennett said: “There’s been a surge in bookings coming into Jamaica from Canada since the Government of Canada has lifted the restrictions on international travel.” She said expectations were high for the Canadian market “to perform exceptionally well this winter” and over 280,000 seats had already been secured. The Dreamliner with a 298-seat capacity is the latest carrier in the Air Canada fleet and is being flown to Jamaica for the first time.
Captain Geoff Wall was also excited at returning, admitting the welcome “really make us feel like we’re coming home so it’s good to be back.” He said after COVID-19: “It’s just nice to be able to leave Canada, bring Canadian tourists and locals back to Jamaica to be with their families, enjoy what is normally a sunshiny place and the hospitality as well.”
Arriving on board the Condor flight, JTB’s Regional Director for Continental Europe, Gregory Shervington said the flight was previously set for last year but got pushed back a number of times because of the pandemic. He said Condor represented a solid connection with Germany over the past 20 years “and it is the precursor to more coming, including Monday’s flight out of Zurich and on Wednesday we’ll have Lufthansa with its sister airline Eurowings Discover coming back with three non-stop flights.”
The new flights have been welcomed also by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and the office of the mayor of Montego Bay. JHTA’s Chapter Chairman, Nadine Spence was particularly pleased with the return of Air Canada, noting that “Canada is one of our favoured destinations, contributing over 22 percent of all tourism arrivals.” She said the return showed that there was confidence in travelling and that “Jamaica is a loved destination.”
Deputy Mayor, Richard Vernon was also “happy to have these airlines back.” He said: “This means a lot to us; we really benefit immensely from tourism here in Montego Bay and numerous persons have been unemployed since March of last year and because of this we can expect persons to go back to work.”