Beginning November 1, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said the island may expect more than 50 non-stop flights per week between Canada and Jamaica.
Minister Bartlett verified the development with senior executives of Canada’s leading airlines while speaking from Toronto, where he has been holding a series of meetings with travel sector officials.
The flights will be operated by Air Canada, Westjet, Sunwing, Swoop, and Air Transat, with non-stop services from the Canadian cities of Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Winnipeg, he said, as Canada, Jamaica’s second-largest tourist market, steadily recovers after more than a year and a half in the doldrums due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and stringent Government-imposed travel restrictions.
According to Bartlett, forward bookings in the Canadian market are now sitting at 65% of 2019 levels, with airlift for the winter season at around 82 percent of 2019 levels, with over 260,000 seats locked in.
“This is welcome news, as COVID-19-related travel restrictions have disproportionately harmed Canada, effectively shutting down foreign travel for several months,” the minister stated.
“We are cautiously optimistic now that more than 80% of eligible Canadians over the age of 12 have been completely vaccinated against COVID-19, and international travel restrictions have been eased somewhat. They are particularly enthusiastic about Jamaica’s resilient corridors, which provide a safe environment for most tourists, with high vaccination rates and low illness rates,” according to Bartlett.
He further mentioned that Canadians over the age of 12 who travel to Jamaica must produce documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result obtained within 72 hours of departure, as is the case for everyone over the age of 12.
Bartlett emphasized the crucial relevance of tourism to Jamaica’s economic recovery, emphasizing that the industry plays an important part in the country’s post-pandemic recovery, and for good cause.
“There is no better industry to drive the inclusive, prudent, and long-term economic growth that the country requires to move forward. There is no greater industry for increasing revenue, restoring jobs, and creating new opportunities in Jamaican communities,” he remarked.
Delano Seiveright, senior advisor and strategist in the tourism ministry, highlighted some of the industry’s challenges, saying that engagements across the United States and Canada have brought to light a range of issues that the minister will be troubleshooting with his ministerial colleagues in the coming weeks and months to mitigate obstacles to accelerated and sustained growth.
“One of the difficulties facing Jamaica is the need to dramatically increase immunization efforts, sort through public health logistics for cruise lines, and make other adjustments to ensure seamlessness for our major partners,” Seiveright added.
“Beyond that, there are some barriers and obstacles that are absolutely beyond our control,” he added, citing Canada’s strict COVID-19 travel requirements, which include the requirement of a PCR test in order to enter the country, as well as logistical and itinerary challenges for cruise lines.
Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board John Lynch, Director of Tourism Donovan White, and regional director for JTB Canada, Angella Bennett, joined Bartlett in a series of meetings with Canadian travel industry professionals.
Similar meetings with CEOs of major airlines, cruise lines, and investors across Jamaica’s largest source market, the United States, preceded the high-level encounters.
This, according to Seiveright, is being done in order to boost arrivals to the location in the next weeks and months, as well as encourage further investment in the local tourism industry.