Tourists could flock to Jamaica to escape freezing weather
The historic winter freeze currently gripping vast areas of north-eastern United States and Canada could result in increased arrivals to Jamaica as persons flee the harsh weather caused by a polar vortex to thaw out in warmer destinations.
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill outlined, "The local tourism sector should reap the rewards of freezing temperatures in North America as persons seek out warmer climates. There has been a slight fall-out from flight cancellations, but generally speaking, we should see an upswing in bookings later in the season."
He added, "I expect this to give a boost to the positive trend in stopover visitors that began last year, and look forward to a very healthy winter tourist season."
This was reiterated by Director of Tourism John Lynch, who said despite a lot of flight cancellations at the height of the winter storm, as the week progresses, normalcy is returning.
"This freezing weather should have a positive effect on bookings down the road, and we are confident that persons in the affected region will consider visiting Jamaica to escape the cold," Lynch said.
Chief commercial officer at Montego Bay Jamaica Airports Limited, Elizabeth Brown Scotton, emphasised that travel is just about back to normal at Sangster International Airport following weather-related flight delays and cancellations over the weekend.
She outlined that on Saturday, out of 59 operations (each operation comprises an inbound and outbound flight), there were 33 arrival delays and 26 departure delays.
North American delays
At Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA), the trend was much the same. Senior director, Commercial Development & Planning at NMIA Airports Limited, Alfred McDonald, said the significant delays and cancellations out of New York and Toronto earlier in the week have levelled off, and the airport is only experiencing minor delays in flights out of North America.
"The airlines have been managing the process by ensuring that displaced persons are rebooked," said McDonald.
He added, "We are encouraging affected passengers to call their airline and make the appropriate arrangements. Also, we ask that 'meeters' and 'greeters' call ahead of time to ensure that flights are on schedule. Contact with the airlines is what is important at this time."