Trinidad and Tobago’s national carrier, Caribbean Airlines, is now the official airline of the Crop Over Festival, Minister of Tourism and International Transport Kerri Symmonds has announced.
He made the declaration at the inaugural landing of CAL’s first direct flight from Jamaica. Flight BW455, a two-and-a-half hour flight piloted by Ian Wilson and Tanisha Clover, touched down in Barbados just before 7 p.m with much fanfare. The Boeing 757-800 seats up to 150 passengers.
In a speech at the landing ceremony, the Minister of Tourism said the flight bridges gaps between Bridgetown and Kingston and forges linkages for culture, commerce, trade, travel, and tourism.
“We cannot forget that part of that cultural experience, that vehicle that takes people to Barbados… is the cultural image that this country has created around itself.
“The ideal of bringing the region together has for a long time been at the very forefront of my administration priorities we feel that every step must be taken to keep our people being able to make contact with each other for tourism purposes, cultural, heritage, entertainment purposes and… tourism and commerce purposes.”
He also disclosed that the island saw a 2.2 per cent increase in arrivals from Jamaica in 2018, with 9,000 Jamaican visitors. He noted that in 2018 the Grantley Adams International Airport welcomed 681,197 visitors – 17,868 more than in 2017. There was a 4.4 per cent increase in intra-Caribbean tourism last year as well.
The Minister expressed that he believed the direct flight from Caribbean Airlines would reap “better results and better returns”.
Symmonds declared: “Gone hopefully forever should be the days of a Bajan leaving to go to Jamaica and deciding he will pass through the continental United States of America . . . This is our baby and if we commit to helping our baby grow, then hopefully one day this will not be twice weekly, but three times, four times, five times or even daily as it should have been.”
Head communications officer of Caribbean Airlines Limited Dionne Ligoure while referring to the airline’s 2019 theme of Caribbean Identity, emphasized that the carrier is also the official airline and sponsor for Reggae Sumfest and other events and festivals throughout the region.
“There are no bridges to connect the Caribbean islands and so air transportation provides an essential link among our islands for tourism, for trade and for the general movement of people,” Ligoure said. “The launch of this service really represents an integral part of Caribbean Airlines vision to connect the regions and to bring our islands much closer together.”
She revealed that the airline sought to enhance the customer experience through redesigning the website and offering packages.