Jamaica welcomes Frontier Airlines' inaugural flight
The Frontier Airlines pilot displays a Jamaican flag upon arrival of the carrier's inaugural flight from Dallas, Fort Worth at Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay on Monday.

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Just under 100 passengers and crew arrived in Jamaica on Monday aboard Frontier Airlines' inaugural flight from Dallas, Fort Worth, to Montego Bay, despite a United States advisory urging Americans to be cautious about travelling to the island.

The 96 visitors received a warm welcome at Sangster International Airport from tourism officials, among them Nadine Spence, chair for the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Montego Bay chapter, who was optimistic that despite the challenges with crime in sections of the country, the tourism sector will remain strong.

"I know that things are happening in and around Jamaica but we are still seeing a very robust economy. The people continue to come and everybody is playing their part as it relates to safety, security, enjoyment, attractions — everything that has to do with the product in and of itself," Spence said.

"We have seen that over the last few years, despite the travel advisories, travellers are informed, they understand that things happen in and around the world and [that] in almost every country there is some heightened information as it relates to security, so they know how to pivot around the world when they do travel," she added.

Frontier Airlines passengers, who travelled on the carrier's inaugural flight from Dallas, Fort Worth, being welcomed by tourism, government and Sangster International Airport officials in Montego Bay on Monday.

Spence was also quick to point out there has not been any fallout within the sector, despite the challenges.

"At this time it is of concern, but at the same [time] we are happy it hasn't caused any significant dent into what has been a robust activity or economy as it relates to tourism post-COVID," Spence added.

An indication of Jamaica's lure as a holiday destination was shared by Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett last Friday at the official opening of the 260-room Sandals Dunn's River, just outside Ocho Rios.

Bartlett said the opening of the hotel is well timed against the background of Jamaica experiencing its "strongest possible summer tourism season".

He said the best year for Jamaican tourism was 2019 when the country recorded 1.2 million air passenger seats and a load factor of 87.5 per cent, "which meant 1,006,000 visitors came to Jamaica in the summer of 2019. This year would see 1.4 million seats and a load factor of 1.23 million visitors for the summer, the best summer projected in the history of our tourism industry".

At Monday's welcome reception, Montego Bay Deputy Mayor Richard Vernon said he was a bit dispirited that despite new flights into the island and the work being done by the Government the island was still placed under a travel advisory.

"I'm disheartened because Montego Bay is the best destination in the Caribbean, and tourism accounts for 30 per cent of our GDP and about 30 per cent of the employment in the service sector — and probably overall in Jamaica," Vernon told journalists.

"We have to ensure that the matter of crime is not one that we have to be spending all our resources on, but [instead] the people should be in a position where they are cooperating and we're protecting ourselves by protecting the economy and protecting tourism," he urged, even as he welcomed the growth still being seen in the sector.

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