The Caribbean is quietly confident that tourism is heading for strong recovery this year as airlines add capacity to satisfy holidaymakerså’ demand for the region.
Julia Hendry, the recently appointed Caribbean Tourism Organisation director of marketing for Europe said: “While the economic conditions in the travel industry have been incredibly difficult for everyone at every level, we are encouraged by signs of confidence and growth in business to the Caribbean. The people of the Caribbean are delighted to be able to welcome more British travellers to enjoy a safe and relaxing holiday in one of our 32 islands and nations.”
Three airlines have doubled capacity on major route services into the Caribbean this year. In March, Air Jamaica doubled capacity on its direct Heathrow to Havana route with the introduction of a second weekly service. That’s been so successful the airline is reporting the flights are almost fully booked to the end of 2003.
On 3 May Monarch Airlines doubled its charter capacity to St Kitts and Tobago with the introduction of a second weekly flight. A new five-star hotel opens in St Kitts this year - the St Kitts Marriott Royal Resort in Frigate Bay.
In May Virgin Atlantic Airways launched a direct scheduled service from Gatwick to Tobago and Grenada as part of a plan to increase capacity to the Caribbean by 50 per cent. Richard Branson announced the new route saying “demand has never been higher to the Caribbean.” By winter this year Virgin Atlantic will have daily flights to the Caribbean with nearly 6,500 seats a week.
These increases follow British Airways’ expansion of its Caribbean routes during the 2002/03 winter season. It increased services between Gatwick and Antigua from 2 to 7 times a week and increased onward services to Tobago and Grenada. BA also added weekly flights to Barbados from Manchester and expanded existing services between Gatwick, Barbados and Antigua.