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Toronto, Canada; October 4, 2021: Senior Executives of Canada’s largest airlines have confirmed with Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett and his senior officials a combined total of over 50 nonstop flights per week between Canada and Jamaica starting November 1, as Jamaica’s second largest market for tourists steadily rebounds after over a year and a half in the doldrums due to the COVID-19 pandemic and stringent Canadian government-imposed travel restrictions. The flights will be operated by Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, Swoop and Transat with nonstop services from the Canadian cities of Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Edmonton, St. John, Ottawa, Moncton and Halifax.
Bartlett noted that the Canadian market currently has, “forward bookings hovering around 65% of 2019 levels and airlift for the winter season at around 82% of 2019 levels with around 260,000 seats locked in. This is positive news as Canada has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 related travel restrictions, which for several months literally shut down international travel. Now with more than 80% of eligible Canadians over the age of 12 fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and a relative easing of international travel restrictions, we are cautiously optimistic. They are also excited by the fact that Jamaica’s Resilient Corridors, where most tourists vacation, are safe with relatively high vaccination rates and near zero infection rates.”
Bartlett was joined in the series of engagements with travel industry leaders in Toronto, Canada by the Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), John Lynch; Director of Tourism, Donovan White; Senior Strategist in the Tourism Ministry, Delano Seiveright and JTB’s Regional Director for Canada, Angella Bennett. The high-level engagements follow similar meetings with leaders of major Airlines, Cruise Lines, and Investors, across Jamaica’s largest source market, the United States. This is being done to increase arrivals to the destination in the coming weeks and months, as well as, to foster further investment in the local tourism sector.
As is the case for everyone over the age of 12 travelling to Jamaica, Canadians must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.
Meanwhile, in noting the critical importance of tourism to Jamaica’s economic recovery, Bartlett underscored that, “the industry plays a pivotal role in Jamaica’s post-pandemic recovery and for good reason. There is no better industry to drive the inclusive, shrewd and sustainable economic growth needed to move the country forward. There is no better industry to increase revenue, restore jobs and generate new opportunities in communities across Jamaica.”
Mr. Seiveright went on to summarize some of the challenges faced. He highlighted that: “The engagements across the United States and Canada brought to the fore a range of issues that Minister Bartlett will be troubleshooting with his Ministerial colleagues so as to mitigate obstacles to accelerated and sustained growth in the coming weeks and months. Among the issues on Jamaica's end are the need to significantly step-up vaccination efforts, sort through public health logistics for cruise lines and other improvements to assure seamlessness for our key partners. Beyond that there are some obstacles and difficulties that are completely outside our control including Canada’s very stringent COVID-19 travel rules, which include the need for a PCR test in order to enter the country and logistics and itinerary challenges for Cruise lines.”