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Jamaica’s tourism officials excited by new JetBlue flights

As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to inflict severe damage to economies across the globe and significantly curb travel, Jamaica received a well-needed boost with JetBlue’s inaugurating new flights into this western city, between the cities of Newark, New Jersey; and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina on Saturday.

The Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

An elated Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, who expressed his confidence that despite the challenges of the pandemic, the tourism sector is resilient enough to bounce back as it has done following previous crises, was among other tourism stakeholders to welcome the back-to-back flights.

“JetBlue’s new flights are testament to that (resilience) and I am pleased to say that 2021 will see a raft of positive developments on the tourism front that will bring back many jobs and needed revenues whilst strictly maintaining health and safety protocols,” Bartlett argued.

“Already, June to September earnings amounted to US$231.9 million, and hotel occupancy rates are slowly inching up.”

Among the leading carriers for Jamaica, JetBlue is a major American low-cost airline and the seventh largest airline in the United States by passenger load. Prior to the pandemic, the airline carried more than 35 million customers a year to 100 cities in the US, the Caribbean, and Latin America with an average of 925 daily flights.

Senior advisor and strategist in the tourism ministry, Delano Seiveright, noted that the beginning of flights from Newark and Raleigh-Durham was a “very positive signal” in these difficult times.

“Newark for one is essential for Jamaica’s tourism, as it is a major airport in the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) from which we draw a very significant number of our visitors; whilst Raleigh-Durham is a growing metropolitan area in North Carolina that Jetblue uniquely identified as one it anticipates increasing demand for leisure travel,” Seiveright said.

–Horace Hines