The return of Delta Airlines??? service to Barbados after an absence of three years signals a clear indication that the island???s tourism product is alive and well.

Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA), Adrian Elcock, gave this vote of confidence in the industry on Monday during a press conference to announce the December 4 start-up of the service from Atlanta and New York, at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church.

He said the airline???s return was as a result of 10 months of negotiations, and was ???an exciting opportunity for Barbados to partner with Delta, one of the world???s largest carriers, come December 4???.

???With this next [service] that we are going to have with Hartsfield and JFK, ???.we will be able to connect hundreds of thousands of people to Barbados, and this is an important factor that went into the Board???s thinking when we tried to identify a partner that we could help to grow the US market.

???With the 19 cities that will connect based on the times these flights are going to be departing out of Hartsfield and JFK, we have an exciting opportunity to grow the US market and bring it back ??? where we will be able to have well over 150,000 persons coming into the island as visitors. That is a very good story that we should all be extremely happy [about],??? Mr. Elcock underlined.

The BTA Chairman admitted that the industry had experienced some challenging times but tourism officials had created a strategy that focused on repositioning Barbados in a sustainable way to protect the island???s most important foreign exchange sector.

???That sustainability will be buttressed by very strong marketing that will be rolled out over the coming weeks. That initiative will take advantage of the 74 million Skymiles card holders in the Delta network, and we think that is an exciting opportunity where we can leverage the potential of getting people interested in Barbados. We will also work with our seasoned tour operators in the market place???,??? he added.

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