Jamaica needs to export more to the UK — British High Commissioner
…as British Airways resumes service to Montego BayWednesday, December 16, 2020
MONTEGO BAY, St James— In the latest push to explore opportunities to restore the Jamaican economy, British High Commissioner to Jamaica Asif Ahmad is urging Jamaicans to seriously consider exporting more goods to the United Kingdom.
This, he cited, could significantly bolster the financial returns both for the exporters, as well as the Jamaican economy.
Ahmad made the call during a brief ceremony to welcome 334 passengers and 13 crew members, who travelled on-board a British Airways (BA) flight from the Gatwick International Airport in London into the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, on Saturday, December 12.
On the day, British Airways resumed its services between London Gatwick and Montego Bay, after it had pulled out in 2009. The airline, however, had continued operating out of Kingston into Gatwick.
Both passengers and crew members were treated to a grand welcome by a local welcoming party, spearheaded by Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett; his regional director, Odette Dyer; High Commissioner Ahmad; executive director at Jamaica Vacations (JAMVAC) Joy Roberts, as well as BA's Caribbean Commercial Manager Diane Corrie.
Ahmad, elated by the agreement struck between the Jamaica Tourist Board and British Airways to resume its operations into Montego Bay, said this move presents several opportunities between Jamaica and the UK.
“Jamaica is important to Britain and Britain is important to Jamaica as well. This is in keeping with the kith-and-the kin connection that we have. The planes carry cargo both ways and that is important because that shows that there is business connection both ways,” Ahmad emphasised.
“I think that Jamaican businesses can do far more by selling directly to the UK through the trade agreement that we have kicking in on January 1, 2021. There should be far more Jamaican goods leaving Kingston and Montego Bay.”
Bartlett said the importance of BA's return would result in a positive impact on the economic viability of the tourism sector and, by large, Jamaica.
“The return of the tourism jobs is an important part of the development of the well-being of the people in St James, Hanover, Trelawny and Westmoreland because this is really the hub,” he remarked, indicating that the airport in Montego Bay employs over 5,000 people and over 4,000 had to be home due to the pandemic.
Bartlett said BA's return into Montego Bay was a very welcomed decision, adding that it is a good sign.
“It is a start for the recovery of the tourism market for Jamaica, as well as a start to the recovery of the British market. With BA operating out of Gatwick, it provides greater inroads into the British market and also connects with the diaspora,” Bartlett noted.
“I can't help recognising the time and the season and the occasion that we are in presently. An occasion the world has never seen before. The tourism sector has been responsible for managing the COVID-19 pandemic effectively,” he said.
Corrie said BA was absolutely delighted to be back in Montego Bay.
“We have been flying to Jamaica for over 70 years, so coming back to Montego Bay is important. We will be operating flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays. We will be catering to tourists who just want to come to visit, as well as members of the UK/Jamaican Diaspora,” she stated.
“We know that people do really want to experience the wonders that we have in Jamaica, from the resorts to the outdoor activities. People in the UK and in Europe really want to get out and enjoy the warm Jamaica weather.”
“We are really looking forward to supporting the Jamaica/British route with cargo trade. We are very grateful for the support from our customers and partners. We look forward to a good season and we hope that we will have many more seasons of flying into Jamaica,” said Corrie.