England lockdown throws off Jamaica's tourism projectionsThursday, November 12, 2020
MONTEGO BAY, St James — The loss of flights to Jamaica from the United Kingdom (UK), stemming from the recent declaration of a new four-week coronavirus lockdown, will negatively impact the island, but Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett is confident that projected arrivals from Britain will start to rebound again by mid-December to January.
His confidence is hinged on a strong bookings out of the European market.
“The bookings for Christmas... December was very good, the only problem is that you would be losing some flights... a number of TUI flights, British Airways and so on that would come in November, so you just have to wait now for December,” Bartlett told the Jamaica Observer.
“The UK lockdown has implications for us, its pushing back the projections from the UK back to December. The good news, if there is any, is that the bookings are still very strong from the UK. Once it's open we will have the numbers coming in for December and for January.”
Speaking to Observer last week, British High Commissioner to Jamaica Asif Ahmad argued that, if anything, the lockdown, which will end on December 2, has presented local tourism stakeholders with the opportunity to market Jamaica to the UK as a safe destination to spend the Christmas holidays.
But he expressed concerns over the availability of flights.
“The real question mark is whether some airlines will be able to fly and we are still waiting to hear from the airline operators as to whether they will adjust schedules,” the British envoy said.
Speaking in Montego Bay two weeks ago, Bartett announced that nearly 2,000 airline seats were available from the the UK for the winter tourist season.
“The JTB [Jamaica Tourist Board] is maintaining strong engagement with tour operators and airline companies to drive bookings for the winter and already seat support out of key markets include:USA – 567,427, Canada – 166,032, United Kingdom –1,801 and Continental Europe – 45,311,” Bartlett stated.
Speaking to the Observer following the official opening of the Virtual Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX), the island's premier tourism trade show, Bartlett was very enthused by the level of support for the trade show.
The organisers are reporting that JAPEX 2020 will be the the largest ever based on a record number of registrations.
“We are very impressed with the support that we have had from across the world for JAPEX this year. And I think there are very, very active inquiries about Jamaica,” he stated.
According to the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and the JTB, the three-day event, which was held virtually due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, had “a record number of registrations from a range of international and regional markets including the UK, USA, Canada, China, India, Russia, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina”.
More than 2,000 buyer and supplier delegates, travel agents and media representatives participated in the tourism industry marketplace.
“Typically, close to 800 international buyers including tour operators, travel agents, travel publications and media representatives in the hotel and attractions industry, gather in Jamaica to negotiate business deals with local operators of hotels and attractions and allied partners including airlines and ground transportation operators.
“This is the first time that registration has surpassed 1,000 participants, with several companies using the opportunity to have multiple team members participate,” the organisers said in a news release.