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Strong Air Connectivity Fuels Tourism Boom for Jamaica - Minister Bartlett

Strong Air Connectivity Fuels Tourism Boom for Jamaica - Minister Bartlett Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett passionately delivers his 2024/2025 Sectoral Debate opening presentation in Parliament on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, under the theme “Tourism Gives Even More for 2024.”

Some 12 international and regional airlines, including carriers flying from over 200 gateways out of the US alone into Jamaica, have contributed to “impressive growth” in activities at the Sangster and Norman Manley International airports. Collectively they generated US$200.28 million or J$30 billion in revenue from a record-breaking 6.96 million passengers traversing them in 2023.

In his 2024/2025 Sectoral Debate opening presentation in Parliament earlier this week, Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett outlined that including flights to St Mary, “the connectivity that Jamaica enjoys today is unprecedented in the region; only Dom Rep has a higher level of air connectivity than Jamaica.”
Minister Bartlett explained that “in 2023, our destination recorded a remarkable 15.4% increase in airlift capacity compared to the previous year, totalling 4,105,313 seats. This increase in capacity resulted in an average load factor of 83.5%, accommodating 3.4 million passengers.”
The Minister underscored that Jamaica’s robust air connectivity framework enabled the country to welcome an estimated 2.96 million stopover visitors for fiscal year 2023/24, reflecting a 9.4% increase over the 2022/23 financial year.
Minister Bartlett highlighted several key achievements in boosting airlift. Internationally, the introduction of a new nonstop service from Denver, Colorado, by United Airlines was a significant milestone, marking the first nonstop service from the US Rockies to Jamaica in a while.
Southwest introduced new nonstop flights between Kansas City, Missouri and Montego Bay; Delta Airlines resumed nonstop flights between New York’s JFK and Kingston, and later in the year, American Eagle inaugurated nonstop flights between Miami and the Ian Fleming International Airport in St Mary.
Minister Bartlett announced that American Airlines had signalled its “intent on increasing to daily, nonstop flights between Miami and St. Mary, signalling the strong demand and the long-term viability of the new route.”
For the Canadian market, two services were inaugurated, one by Jetlines offering nonstop flights between Toronto and Montego Bay, and the other by Flair Airlines from Toronto to Kingston.
Minister Bartlett announced a surge in tourists out of Canada, facilitated by at least 65 Canadian flights coming in per week. Last year’s 375,000 Canadian tourists represented a 39% increase over 2022 and “already for 2024, Jamaica is seeing an 11% increase over last year in airline seats from Canada,” including new flights out of the cities of Toronto, Montreal and Halifax.
Meanwhile, for the UK market, Norse Airline diversified the international flight options with the introduction of a new low-cost carrier from London Gatwick, while Virgin Atlantic has added nonstop flights between London Heathrow and Montego Bay.
As an added boost, major European tour operator, TUI, ranked Jamaica as the best performing long haul destination for the group, which operates up to nine flights per week between the UK cities of London, Manchester and Birmingham - and Montego Bay.
Regionally, a collaboration with Copa Airlines facilitated additional flights from Panama to Montego Bay and Kingston utilising larger aircraft to meet a growing demand from the Latin American market. Elaborating on “a remarkable 40% increase” in the Latin American market, Minister Bartlett said Jamaica welcomed “approximately 36,000 visitors in 2023” with this region remaining the most significant new growth market opportunity.
Further afield, with India seen as a high-potential tourism market, TRAC Representations (India) has been appointed Jamaica’s local market representative, with responsibility for engaging with local travel partners and media, fostering trade and consumer awareness of the Jamaican brand and developing suitable air connectivity options to the island. “This strategic partnership seeks to tap into India’s burgeoning travel market and position Jamaica as a desirable destination for Indian travellers,” Minister Bartlett expressed.