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Remarks by the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill at the Welcome Ceremony for the Inaugural Transaero Flight


• Mr. Andrey Dryakin, Head of the Russian Consular Section, Jamaica,
• Mr. John Lynch, Director of Tourism
• Ms. Elizabeth Scotton, Chief Commercial Officer, MBJ Airports Limited
• Mr. Eduardo Canelas, Chief Executive Officer of MBJ Airports Limited
• Tourism Partners, members of the media…Distinguished Guests good afternoon.

Today is truly a historic day for Jamaica’s tourism as we welcome the inaugural Transearo Airlines flight from Moscow, Domodedovo to Montego Bay’s, Sangster International Airport.

As we usher in a new year, we are witnessing this afternoon the opening up of a new gateway to a new market for Jamaica, one that will allow thousands of Russian nationals to enjoy a Jamaican vacation.
It is always a pleasure to welcome new airlines to our country, but I take particular pleasure in seeing the arrival of this Transaero flight, as it provides the opportunity for Jamaica to intensify our efforts to attract visitors from this very important market. The start of this flight service has been long overdue and now we can truly say ‘the Russians are coming.’

The arrival of this flight has again signaled that our efforts to boost airlift and open up new markets continues to bear fruit.

Transaero flies to 40 countries on 130 routes and has hubs in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg. They operate flights between Moscow and Belorussia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. They also operate flights out of other countries such as Austria, Cyprus and Greece.

Transearo Airlines, as Russia’s second largest carrier, will be operating these charter flights in partnership with tour operator Biblio Globus, demonstrating the result of yet another success story for Jamaica’s tourism in reaching new frontiers.

The flights will run for three months initially, however we are in discussions with them to continue into the summer and to provide the service for the entire year.

Ladies and gentlemen airlift is critical to the survival of the tourism industry of an island state such as Jamaica. The Transearo Boeing 777 aircraft, with its full crew and passenger load, has brought together two worlds, two cultures; today the world indeed got smaller for some three hundred and twenty passengers and crew members and we welcome them warmly to our country.

Tourism allows for the exchange of cultures and the sharing of ideas, which creates a unity across borders; one that is not easily replicated without personal interactions and face to face exchanges. 

Certainly with the advent of the internet the world appears to have gotten smaller and far more accessible with the simple click of a mouse. However as much as this may expose us to the languages, arts and culture of people across the globe, there is no real emotional attachment.

For today’s global traveler, there is nothing that substitutes for that authentic experience of arriving on our sunny shores, taking that first breath of warm, scented tropical air and proceeding to interact with the animated and genuine personality of our Jamaican people.

That is the experience that is uniquely Jamaican that urges you to say ‘Once you Go, You know’.

The arrival of Transearo Airlines is not only the start of an adventure for our first three hundred visitors from Russia, but it is also the beginning of a new era in the ongoing relations between Russia and Jamaica.

I cannot say enough how encouraged we were by the enthusiastic support of Russian Ambassador to Jamaica His Excellency Mr. Vladimir Polenov throughout the course of our negotiations and discussions to make this partnership happen. 

I believe Jamaica will begin to see far more markets in Eastern Europe opening up as a result of this partnership, which I am confident will prove to be a very successful venture. I am convinced that our Russian visitors will find Jamaica to be a very exciting destination.  

We are very optimistic that the Russian market will provide significant returns as the minimum stay by visitors from that market is ten nights, which is twice the average stay of visitors from traditional markets such as the US.

With this in mind I am optimistic about the future of this partnership with Transearo Airlines and Biblio Globus.

Let me thank the passengers of this flight and indeed the Transaero flights which are to come for choosing Jamaica.

I am confident you will be captivated. Our music, our cuisine, our fine beaches, our many attractions, activities and top rated hotels and most importantly our hospitable people are second to none.

From this first taste of Jamaica you are now in a position to say ‘Once you Go, You know.’ Jamaica welcomes you with open arms.

Thank you.