Jamaica examining possible 'air bridge' with Canada


Jamaica examining possible 'air bridge' with Canada

Sunday, July 05, 2020

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A possible “air bridge” between Jamaica and Canada is currently being discussed that could see the easing of safety protocols specifically for Canadians.

This was disclosed by Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett during a recent update hosted by the Caribbean Tourism Organization. The move is to make it easier for Canadian tourists to vacation in Jamaica.

Bartlett pointed to Canada's “high-level” response to the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting that an air bridge would allow for less rigid measures for incoming Canadian visitors. While observing that the Government of Canada is still advising its nationals against all non-essential travel, Bartlett said that Jamaica is open for tourism business from that country.

Bartlett said: “The Canadian market is driven a lot more by Canada than us. Canada is still not open for international tourism the same way the United States is.”

In the first two weeks after reopening to international tourists on June 15, Jamaica welcomed over 6,000 visitors, the majority of whom arrived from the US. With all travellers to Jamaica required to take a swab test for COVID-19 upon arrival, only 15 of the initial 6,000 visitors tested positive for the virus.

Bartlett explained that most of these individuals came from high-risk states in the United States including New York, Florida, Arizona and Texas, noting that banning Americans entirely from entering the country is out of the question.

“The US is our livelihood, making up 50 per cent of our market, up to 70 per cent if you add cruisers. We don't have the same luxury as Europe to ban Americans outright, so we have to manage as best we can in order to stay alive,” he said.

Currently, July is looking stronger for Jamaica, with up to 20 flights per day coming into the island including Air Canada service to Kingston and Montego Bay.

— Durrant Pate

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