Jamaica is expected to start receiving three flights per week from the European countries of Belgium and the Netherlands.
Flights are scheduled to land in Montego Bay, St James, by TUI Belgium and TUI Netherlands by April of this year.
The development comes as Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett and a small team participates in FITUR, currently the world's largest annual international travel and tourism trade show in Madrid, Spain.
“These flights bring back the Belgian and Netherlands tourism markets to where we were prior to the pandemic which is really good news,” said Bartlett.
“We are truly appreciative of the work of our team members in keeping Jamaica front and centre in these challenging times. Whilst we are on a roller coaster for the last two years, we have sought to ensure that the work to keep Jamaica firmly in the minds of our critical international partners is constantly reinforced,” added Bartlett.
TUI Belgium will operate two direct flights each week starting April between Brussels International Airport and Montego Bay, whilst TUI Netherlands will operate one direct flight per week between Amsterdam Schipol International Airport and Montego Bay.
Boeing 787 Dreamliners, with roughly 300 seats each, are the planes being used for the flights.
Senior advisor and strategist in the tourism ministry Delano Seiveright highlighted that, “the Belgian and Dutch flights will bring to eight, the number of flights per week between continental Europe and Jamaica. Four of these flights are operated between Frankfurt, Germany and Montego Bay by German carriers Condor and Eurowings Discover.
“Further, we continue to have a once weekly direct service between Zurich, Switzerland and Montego Bay. We do not include the roughly 15 non-stop flights per week between the United Kingdom and Jamaica operated by Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and TUI in this assessment.”
Neighbouring countries, Belgium and the Netherlands have a combined population of just under 30 million, high per capita incomes and strong interest in international travel. They are also at the heart of the European Union with tremendous and seamless air, rail, and road connectivity to many other European countries.
In the meantime, Bartlett noted that despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19 and the present Omicron wave that is causing disruptions globally,
“Jamaica is looking to a very strong spring and summer. Just last week Jamaica got a huge boost with JetBlue moving by June of this year to increase to nine the number of daily non-stop flights with New York's John F Kennedy International Airport,” said Bartlett.
He noted that this development runs counter to JetBlue's recent decision to cut a dozen and a half routes primarily across the Caribbean and Latin America including Barbados, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Mexico, Bermuda, Antigua, and the US Virgin Islands.
“Beyond that, Southwest Airlines will return with daily non-stop service between Chicago, and Montego Bay, Jamaica,” Bartlett stated.
He added: “Given the huge turnout at FITUR, it is abundantly clear that tourism is on a very strong growth path and we must ensure that the people of Jamaica reap the rewards. We must never lose sight of the instant convertibility of tourism which facilitates the infusion of tourism spend into the local tourism economy. Tourism cannot operate on its own. It is an industry with a supply chain that links across multiple economic sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing and transportation, to exist. This is what builds economic sustainability.”