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Direct flight a boost to economy

Kenmore Bynoe

Direct flight a boost to economy

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GOL Airlines’ direct flight from Brazil to Barbados has been hailed as the needed buoyancy to sustain this island’s tourism market in the face of declining arrivals from Britain.That vote of confidence came from the key playmakers in the tourism product, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) chairman Ralph Taylor and newly installed president of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), Colin Jordan, minutes after captain Ricardo Ferrari landed the sleek 737 jet on its inaugural flight from Sao Paulo on Saturday night.When Sealy, Barbados’ ambassador to Brazil Yvette Goddard, and chief executive officer of the BTA David Rice alighted from the plane to be greeted by Minister of International Transport, George Hutson, and Taylor along with Brazil ambassador to Barbados, Appio Cludio Acquarone, the look on everyone’s faces epitomised Barbados’ tourism maxim of the island being “a smile wide”.Executives from GOL, the 53 Brazilian journalists, the nine members of the local media plus the regular passengers who saw the plane leave Sao Paulo 12 seats short of its 153 capacity, would have been impressed with the Rio-like carnival welcome on the tarmac.Sealy spoke to the commitment of everyone who had assisted in making the arrival of GOL a reality, and expressed Government’s anticipation of the mutually beneficial relationship which the two countries should enjoy.  Pointing to the five-and-a-half hours which the direct trip offered instead of the 13-plus hours’ flight through Miami, Sealy said the possibilities would be limitless for businessmen, sportsmen and other travellers using GOL.Taylor also expressed the BTA’s excitement over the possibilities of Barbados becoming a hub for the region to Brazil and South America.Calling it “the sleeping giant on our door step”, Taylor said trips to and from Southern Africa to Barbados would also be reduced by six hours if one used the Brazilian route.Taylor admitted that attempts to exploit the 190 million population in Brazil had failed in the past due to the lack of a proper relationship with a carrier. Indicating that the low-cost travel on GOL spoke to the longevity and success of the relationship, the BTA chairman said that the entire Latin American region was now open to Barbados.Director of planning with GOL Airlines, Mauricio Emboaba, said GOL had moved from six planes to 109 jets in ten years and had maintained their low costs on international flights through the support of the local market.  According to Emboaba, 100 million Brazilians comprising 60 million from the local market, travelled yearly. GOL has 60 per cent of that market.Emboaba said that Barbadians travelling to Rio de Janeiro could fly on GOL to Sao Paulo and then take a transfer flight at no extra cost.