Davina Henry, Staff Reporter
The Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ) has plans to introduce cultural entertainment in a bid to increase the volume of non-travelling visitors to the island's points of departure and arrival.
One most notable feature of this initiative is that the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) is currently considering the opportunity to provide a venue for mass entertainment.
According to Alfred McDonald, senior director of commercial development and planning at AAJ, both the Sangster International Airport (SIA) and the NMIA have included cultural entertainment in their respective airport operations over time.
"NMIA is currently considering the opportunity to provide a venue for mass entertainment (such as stage events/concerts) on airport lands as well as a fine-dining area, which provide a view of arriving and departing aircraft. These initiatives are in their embryonic stages," McDonald told The Gleaner.
McDonald also explained that the NMIA, with its upgraded facilities, has adopted the motto 'the uniquely Jamaican airport' and is implementing various elements of this theme, including cultural entertainment.
"On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Jamaica's Independence, we are taking the opportunity to enhance the welcoming environment by the inclusion of cultural items and entertainment, especially for the benefit of persons arriving from the Jamaican diaspora and visitors to the island. This is usually well appreciated," McDonald said.
According to the Jamaica Public Bodies booklet, the AAJ plans to implement a Customer Service Incentive Programme for concessionaires which would include sports bars, barber shops and additional international fast food businesses.
"Airports are diverse environments for shopping, entertainment, sightseeing, etc., both for passengers and the persons who take or meet them there. An increase in the volume of non-travelling visitors will mean that the airports, through the facilities provided and its concessionaires, will have a greater opportunity to cater to the interests and needs of our local visitors," McDonald said.
The AAJ also seeks to increase the number of non-travelling visitors to the airport by implementing initiatives for locals to travel to the airport for reasons unrelated to air travel.
These reasons would include entertainment and/or educational purposes (as is the case with school tours of the facilities). An increase in these numbers will, therefore, mean increased revenue opportunities for concessionaires.
McDonald stated that job opportunities would be created through these new initiatives.
"The airport is an economic engine, generating jobs - direct, indirect and induced. As an airport community, we encourage and welcome entrepreneurial ideas that will cause the airport to be seen as both the prime gateway for passenger travel as well as a destination for non-travelling visitors," he said.