The tourism industry is expected to experience an increase in airlift and cruise home porting, for the remainder of the year.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator, Lisa Cummins made this disclosure about the prospective outlook for the tourism industry, during a ‘State of the Industry’ media briefing, held yesterday at the Hilton Barbados Resort.
Following the United Kingdom’s (UK) announcement of Barbados being added to its ‘green list’, Minister Cummins reported that there was an immediate increase (400 per cent) in bookings for the rest of the year, and the upcoming winter season.
“This is because of the pent up demand, how long the UK market has been closed, how much aggression has been put into this by our market and by other sun destinations, and also the fact that our winter tourists are snowbirds who wanted to be able to travel. And with the lifting of the illegality on leisure travel, people wanted to travel again. And so bookings were being made,” Minister Cummins explained.
With this increase in bookings, the Minister noted that it was necessary to provide travellers with reliable and affordable airlift. She added that it was on this basis that the ministry engaged with its airline partners especially over the last few weeks, to get to a place where “we can synchronise, increasing our airlift capacity”.
Minister Cummins announced that starting September 1, American Airlines would have a daily service from Miami, Florida and in addition from October 7, a twice-daily service. She added that out of Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturdays, the airline would have a weekly flight, then from December 1-15, a twice weekly service, and from December 16-31 a daily service.
JetBlue for the period June to November will have a daily service to Barbados and this will increase to twice daily from December out of New York. The airline will also have a weekly service on Saturdays from Newark, and out of Boston on Saturdays the airline will have a weekly service, and this will increase to twice daily on Saturdays and Sundays in the month of December.
Air Canada, which currently arrives on Thursdays and Sundays from Toronto, is expected to ramp up daily flights by November and introduce a weekly service out of Montreal starting mid-December. In addition, the airline WestJet is expected to resume service from November out of Canada.
Virgin Atlantic airbus 350 aircraft will have daily flights starting July 25 via its London, Heathrow service to Barbados, which represents a weekly increase of 355 seats.
Effective July 26, to September 5, British Airways will increase its flight capacity on its London, Heathrow to Bridgetown route. The increase will come through the introduction of a 777-300 aircraft, which will have 27 additional club class seats.
The country is also set to welcome new airlift out of Europe. Starting October 16, KLM will have three weekly flights out of Amsterdam, and Aer Lingus and Lufthansa are also expected to resume service for the winter season 2021/2022.
From August 3, Air Antilles will have a twice weekly flight from Martinique and Guadeloupe on Tuesdays and Fridays. With Trinidad and Tobago’s borders re-opening on July 17, Caribbean Airlines has resumed it flights to Barbados, and will provide service to New York, Trinidad, Kingston, Antigua, Dominica, Guyana, Grenada and St. Vincent.
The Tourism Minister disclosed that Barbados was in the process of finalising negotiations with officials in the Middle East and Africa to get air links to Bridgetown by the end of this year.
While noting that most of the visitors expected to visit the island would be vaccinated, Minister Cummins stressed that: “While we want to take advantage of the pent-up demand and we want to be able to fill those flights, we want to be able to do that safely. So, for us, our restrictions while they are more [stringent] than other countries even in the region… allow us to put those buffers in place.”
She further gave the assurance that local officials would be enforcing the strict protocols currently in place.
Speaking about the cruise industry, the Minister stated: “Barbados continues to manage its international relationships by working with cruise lines and companies individually, as well as to assist in the development and design of new itineraries and products.”
As a result, Seabourn Cruise Line began its initial homeporting and summer sailing on July 18 out of Bridgetown, and other cruise vessels including Royal Caribbean and PM&O Cruises will also be homeporting in Barbados.