BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor — special assignment firstname.lastname@example.org
DIRECTOR of Tourism John Lynch is assuring local tourism players that Jamaica will have adequate airlift into the island for the upcoming winter tourist season, which begins on December 15 and runs through to April.
An increase in airlift is expected from both the major Unites States and European markets as well as emerging ones in Latin America.
"From our primary source market, the United States, we will have an additional 7,200 air seats for the 2012/2013 season — a one per cent increase over the last winter season," he reported.
The director was speaking during Monday's media breakfast, at The Jewel Dunn's River Resort and Spa in Ocho Rios, St Ann, for local and international journalists attending the 22nd staging of the local tourism trade show, the Jamaica Product Exchange.
Lynch announced further that Jamaica will welcome new nonstop daily service by Delta from New York John F Kennedy Airport to Montego Bay beginning on December 15. Meanwhile, JetBlue will — for the first time — offer winter service twice daily between Fort Lauderdale and Kingston while US Airways will add a fourth flight for the winter from Charlotte, providing daily service.
Virgin, Lynch said, has added another flight to Montego Bay beginning next month while international tour company TUI has added a second flight from Gatwick to Montego Bay.
"This additional flight will arrive every other week and will also begin in November," Lynch explained.
Beginning December, Lynch said, there will be a charter service out of Prague, Czech Republic to Montego Bay and this is being offered by Exim Tours until the end of the winter season.
As for Latin America, Lynch said there will also be increased air service this winter to Montego Bay starting December 17.
"COPA Airline will fly between Panama City's Tocumen International Airport and Sangster International Airport four times weekly," Lynch announced, adding that this will be in addition to COPA's regular service from Panama City to Kingston four times per week.
Meanwhile, the tourism director said Jamaica continues to hold its own in the marketplace, welcoming close to 1.5 million visitors between January and September 29 — an increase of nearly three per cent — over the comparative period in 2011.
"Preliminary estimates indicate that [has been] be the best September in our history for stopover visitors, an increase of almost six per cent over last September," Lynch said.