Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy, is optimistic that the partnership between Air Canada Vacations and the Sandals Beaches brand could result in a direct service out of Western Canada.

He made this observation during a cocktail reception in recognition of Air Canada???s 65 years of service to the island at Hilton Barbados recently.??Cognisant of the risk involved in such a venture, Mr. Sealy said Government will be increasing its marketing efforts in Canada.

He said the launch of the National Tourism Host Programme, championed by Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, would ensure that the tourism product and stepped-up marketing efforts worked in synch.

???So, in essence, you can be comfortable as you continue to sell Barbados. Additionally, we have made a three-year commitment through Air Canada vacations in support of cooperative marketing, tactical offers and marketing initiatives which promote some of the more exciting segments ??? villa, cruise, romance, sports tourism fusion and an all-inclusive segment ??? all of which have the potential to drive yields and boost load factors,??? the Tourism Minister added.

Mr. Sealy alluded to infrastructural enhancements at the air and sea ports in order to make the island more competitive in terms of capacity and comfort for visitors. In this regard, he disclosed that the island was in an advanced stage of designing adjustments to the terminal that would include jet bridges.

This adjustment will be carried out within the context of the airport master plan, which would ???take into account all of the capacity needed for the air/sea transfer programme and all the expected increases that we will have in airlift capacity, which will be led, of course by Air Canada???.

Meanwhile, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada Vacations, Michael Friisdahl, praised the long-standing relationship between Air Canada and the region, and gave the assurance that the carrier was in the region for the long haul.

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