New flights bound from South America, Russia to Jamaica start this winter

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett (Photo: Mark Bell, JIS)

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has announced new flights out of South America and Russia to Jamaica.

Bartlett, while providing updates on industry developments, at a press conference in New Kingston on said the new flights as well as expansions in the island’s hotel room stock over the next three months, are projected to result in an average eight to nine percent growth in stopover visitor arrivals.

He added that this should also result in a 10.2 percent growth in overall revenue generated by tourism for the 2019 calendar year.

Regarding the airlift arrangements, Bartlett said come December 2, LATAM Airlines will commence service between Lima, Peru and Montego Bay, with three flights per week.

Lima, Peru at midday (Photo: Instagram, @marina_estacio)

This, he pointed out, will increase the number of flights out of South America to 14, with COPA Airlines currently operating 11 weekly flights between Panama and Jamaica.

“That is good news, especially [since] the South American market has shown the highest level of growth for this year, so far. I think they are growing somewhere in the region of 22 to 24 percent,” Bartlett explained.

The minister further advised that Russian airline Pegas Fly, which currently provides flights to Jamaica using 747 aircraft, will be utilising bigger jets, to increase the number of passengers travelling to Montego Bay to 500 per trip.

“This [is] exciting news because it will expand our reach into continental and eastern Europe,” he added.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett speaking to the media on Tuesday (Photo: Mark Bell, JIS)

Meanwhile, Minister Bartlett advised that rooms being brought back on stream include 790 at RIU Ocho Rios, which reopens in September, while among the new inventory are 500 by the H10 Hotel Group, which will commence operations in November with, “hopefully, another 500 over the next year as they [move] to the 1,000 mark”.

Bartlett also mentioned the opening of the AC Marriott Hotel, which “will add a significant number of rooms to Kingston”.

The sign at the new AC Hotel in Kingston
The AC Marriot Hotel in Kingston (Photo: Don Waysome)

Noting that 2019 stopover arrivals, to date, average approximately 9.1 percent, Bartlett said it is anticipated that the out-turn for September to December will grow by just over seven percent to round out the calendar year growth projection of between eight and nine percent and 10.2 percent in earnings.

He pointed out that the overall tourism out-turn “is going to continue to be buoyant and will continue to fuel the growth projections for gross domestic product (GDP) out-turns on a quarterly basis”.

Bartlett cautioned, however, that cruise ship visitor arrivals have not grown, consequent on re-arrangements of the itineraries of the western Caribbean, and issues relating to the capacity of some regional port facilities, including Jamaica, to accommodate mega-liners.

The Ocho Rios Cruise Port terminal (Photo: CruiseMapper.com)

“The good news is that the new itinerary that is being [developed], there will be a revived western Caribbean arrangement, which will have Jamaica as the new centre. There are also plans for the expansion of port facilities,” he indicated.