Sat | Oct 16, 2021

Jamaica to see boost in flights from Canada as tourism rebounds

Published:Friday | October 1, 2021 | 11:21 AM
Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, (second right) shares a moment with Royal Caribbean International’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Donna Hrinak (second left), Vice President of Worldwide Port Operations, Hernan Zini (left) and Vice President of Government Relations, Russell Benford, in Miami, Florida earlier this week – Contributed photo.

Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer

Jamaica's second-largest source market, Canada, will deliver 50 nonstop flights per week to the island commencing on November 1.

The flights will be operated by Air Canada, Westjet, Sunwing, Swoop and Transat with direct services from the Canadian cities of Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Halifax, Edmonton, St John, Ottawa, and Moncton.

This latest development is a result of a series of meetings by Jamaica's chief marketer, Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, and his team of senior executives.

The meetings commenced in the US last week, culminating in Canada this week.

Soon to return to Jamaica with news of thousands of tourists, via air and cruise, Bartlett this morning confirmed to The Gleaner the flights out of the North American country.

Bartlett noted that the Canadian market currently has “forward bookings hovering around 65 per cent of 2019 levels and airlift for the winter season at around 82 per cent of 2019 levels with around 260,000 seats locked in.”

Excited about the prospects, he spoke about the impact that COVID-19 had on Canada, disproportionately impacting the country, resulting in travel restrictions which for several months shutdown international travel.

Now with more than 80 per cent of eligible Canadians over the age of 12 fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and a relative easing of international travel restrictions, Bartlett said that interests were cautiously optimistic.

“They are also excited by the fact that Jamaica's Resilient Corridors, where most tourists' vacation, are safe with relatively high vaccination rates and near zero infection rates.”

This latest development comes days after the tourism minister and a high-level team that included chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board, John Lynch, and Director of Tourism, Donovan White, met with Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line and American Airlines executives.

Coming out of the Carnival meeting, some 200,000 cruise ship passengers are expected to dock on the island's shores between October 2021 and April 2022.

And Royal Caribbean International, the second largest cruise line in the world, will recommence limited operations to Jamaica in November of this year.

On Wednesday, cruise executives reiterated a strong desire to employ thousands of Jamaicans across a wide range of jobs and are awaiting government regulatory amendments to make it a reality.

Royal Caribbean has not docked in Jamaica in over a year and half owing to the pandemic.

Bartlett has noted the critical importance of tourism to Jamaica's economic recovery.

“There is no better industry to drive the inclusive, shrewd and sustainable economic growth needed to move the country forward. There is no better industry to increase revenue, restore jobs and generate new opportunities in communities across Jamaica,” he stated.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com

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