Jamaica’s tourism minister Edmund Bartlett said he was confident new flights would help plug the gap in capacity left by Thomas Cook in time for the winter season.
Speaking to TTG during Jamaica Travel Market (JTM) in St Albans, Bartlett said talks were under way to introduce new airlift from the UK to replace the axed Cook service following the operator’s collapse.
“We are moving very swiftly to minimise the economic fallout, and have been talking with other partners that are filling in the gaps,” he said.
Thomas Cook reintroduced Jamaica as part of its summer 2019 programme, having last featured it in 2015. The weekly Monday flight from Manchester to Montego Bay was due to operate until 28 October.
”We are confident that they will be plugged, and in fact, are looking at new rotations for the winter season and beyond. There will be a minimal impact because we’ve been able to manage the forward bookings,” added Bartlett.
On Monday (23 September) 311 Thomas Cook passengers were repatriated to the UK, with some 300 estimated to be still in Jamaica.
“The impact as we see it now will only be in related to the rotations from Manchester,” Bartlett asserted.
“There would have been six rotations from now until the end of October, which would be an estimated 1,800 passengers. We think that this could be narrowed down to 700 or 800 after rebookings.”
Meanwhile, the mood at JTM remained positive, said director of tourism Donovan White.
“It’s been phenomenal energy on the floor. People are particularly happy about marketing Jamaica. We have continued our year-on-year growth, which is up 8.9% last year and from the UK, we are up 5.2% (108,000 visitors) for the first half of 2019.”
In the hotel sector, Jamaica has set its sights on adding 4,000 to 6,000 rooms over the next two years. The latest developments include a 500-room Oceans by H10 hotel in Trelawney, opening this November; 57 new villas at Half Moon and a 220 room Marriot that opened in Kingston in July.