Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Ja, Panama sign multi-destination marketing and airlift agreement

Published:Monday | January 27, 2020 | 12:23 AM
From left: Mexican Minister Miguel Torruco, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, and Ivan Eskildsen Alfara of Panama.
From left: Mexican Minister Miguel Torruco, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, and Ivan Eskildsen Alfara of Panama.

Jamaica has signed a multi-destination marketing and airlift agreement with the Republic of Panama, bringing this type of arrangement to five countries in the North-Western Caribbean.

Speaking with The Gleaner from Fitur, the international tourism trade fair, in Spain on Friday, Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, described the signing as a convergence that will create access to a market of over 60 million travellers and will be attractive to large tour operators, airlines and cruise lines.

“Jamaica will benefit greatly from this arrangement, which has the potential to increase our tourist arrivals exponentially,” he stated.

Jamaica has previously signed similar agreements with Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

Agreements of this type are usually done to advance regional integration by fostering and harmonising legislation on air connectivity, visa facilitation, product development, marketing and human capital development.

The partnership with Panama, Bartlett said, will create a mega-market that will be able to attract the big airlines, “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 and enjoy many of the experiences at a packaged deal”.

Multi-destination tourism

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 rationalising 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. They 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 flagship carrier of Panama, operates 11 flights weekly into Jamaica.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com