Barbados Today

Foreign minister hails new air links to Jamaica, Cuba

InterCaribbean Airways inaugurated a nonstop service between Barbados and Jamaica, with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kerrie Symmonds framing the event early Wednesday afternoon as a “missing link” for direct travel between the two countries.

Joined by Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) officials in welcoming the flight from Kingston just before 2 p.m. on Wednesday, the minister declared that easy access to intraregional travel must remain a high-priority target for all Caribbean countries.

He recalled an October 2023 conference on regional connectivity by the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) that demonstrated the region’s transit challenges.

“The region had a connectivity conference in Martinique,” said Symmonds. “It was really a platform where thinkers of these issues that we have discussed today very casually – how we connect for the purposes of tourism and recreational travel, how we connect for the purposes of our economic development and our commerce in this region, both by way of air and, of course, sea, and how we treat to these issues.

“Quite frankly, the Caribbean has had a challenge of connectivity. InterCaribbean has come into this southern Caribbean region, and helped us solve some major problems that we have been confronted with.”

Symmonds emphasised that the Martinique forum left officials with a strong desire to collaborate not only in the region but also internationally, to make connectivity a reality.

The foreign minister also said two upcoming international events in Barbados –a meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and International Cricket Council T20 World Cup Finals events – served to realise the island’s goal of becoming a major regional transit hub.

“[The UNCTAD] global conference will have as one of its thematic areas the question of logistics. Again, this country is positioning itself as a logistical hub for the southern Caribbean, and I have absolutely no doubt that interCaribbean will play a meaningful part in the process as well.

“Shortly after that, we will have World Cup Cricket where we will host the finals and, again, part of what we must do is to move the people of this region so that we can enjoy the sports of the region and the hospitality that each country has to offer,” he said.

Meanwhile, Symmonds said that the new flight also provided Barbadians with a new link to Cuba, considering that the airline now operates direct flights from Jamaica to its Spanish-speaking neighbour. This, he argued, bodes well for greater collaboration with Havana.

“The connection to Havana, Cuba, is also virtually immediate once you get to Jamaica, empowering our people and empowering our business community now to unleash its potential in a relationship with Cuba which has been nothing but good to those of us in the Southern [and] Eastern Caribbean as a whole,” the foreign minister declared.

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