Business

Gov't mulls ways to raise Brazilian airlift to Jamaica

BY SHAMILLE SCOTT Business reporter scotts@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 04, 2013    

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THE Government is weighing its options for increasing airlift from Brazil.

On one hand, it might pump money into Copa Airlines to increase the number of connecting flights through Panama. On the other, it may try to fly potential visitors straight from the South American country.

What's certain is that the tourism ministry has set its sight on aggressively growing airlift to Jamaica.

There's already a partnership with Copa to bring travellers from Brazil through its four indirect flights a week.

"Now, Copa goes to seven cities in Brazil, the same areas that we are targeting anyway, so any partner we go after is one that can go to those seven cities," said the tourism minister, Wykeham McNeill.

Brazil isn't presently the largest market for Jamaican tourism — it is the sixth highest visitor-producing country of the 18 Latin American countries tracked — nor is it the fastest growing (Costa Rican arrivals grew by 143 per cent during the first 10 months of 2013).

However, arrivals from the South American country, which is the most populous in Latin America, grew by 30 per cent year over year, moving from 1,590 in the first 10 months of 2012 to 2,065 in the comparative period in 2013.

The drive to bring more tourists is also aimed at filling rooms in slower periods.

"A lot of what we are pushing here is to continue with the increase in our summer and fall seasons because one of the problems we are running into now is, come winter, we bringing more flights but not more rooms," he said.

Meanwhile, Jamaica will host the Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2014 trade show in Montego Bay from January 12 to 14, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association announced yesterday at the Jamaica Pegasus.

The business to business event, which will take place at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, is expected to bring together buyers from over 12 countries from Europe, US, Latin America and the Caribbean, with suppliers of tourism products from across the region.

Chairman of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, Josef Forstmayr said Jamaica will benefit immensely from the trade show and the delegates will spend 3,500 room nights with an average room rate of $180 per night, channelling US$630,000 in hotel room charges.

McNeill noted that Caribbean Travel Marketplace will take place against the background of resurgence in Jamaica's tourism industry and will be an important event during what is expected to be an excellent winter season.

"The losses we had at the start of the year have now been reversed and we are now in positive numbers despite nearly losing 2,000 rooms," he said. "Summer was up at 2.8 per cent and bookings for the winter season are pacing well ahead of last year."

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