TOURISM MATTERS: JetBlue offers new opportunities
THE POSITIVE DOUBLE WHAMMY for our tourism sector last week was the number of English cricket supporters who came for the Test match at Kensington Oval and the announcement by JetBlue that it was introducing a once weekly (Saturday) seasonal flight non-stop from Boston.
From the first flight commencing on November 7 it could easily add another near 4 000 American tourism arrivals until the service initially halts on April 30 next year. It also gives us another incredible gateway from a market that many know could witness significant increases over the next few years.
While the 48 square miles that make up the actual city of Boston only boasts a population of around 646 000 inhabitants, within the area known as Greater Boston live some 4.5 million people, making it the area with the United States’ (US) tenth largest metropolitan density.
At first, concern may be expressed about a single flight per week, but you should remember that the Americans generally have shorter holidays and many of those are crammed between two weekends, so a Saturday departure is perfect.
Also often overlooked are the flight times, departing Boston at 7:45 am with a scheduled arrival time of 1:30 pm, allowing more visitors time to journey from the airport to accommodation, check-in, unpack and possible sea baths before dark. The return flight leaves at 2:45 pm, so even after allowing for time at the airport, it is possible to have a midday check-out with almost a full morning in the sun.
Equally important is that it gives us a direct service out of New England and it is difficult to see what better visitor demographics could be presented to us. Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and even upstate New York cities like Albany, suddenly become a lot closer and substantially more accessible, dispensing timely connections through JFK or Liberty airports.
Having identified many of the pluses, there is absolutely no room for complacency, either in the public or private tourism sector. We have a number of opportunities, and while many still believe that we can increase our dependence on tour operators or wholesalers to fill those seats, my thoughts are that this industry is a people business and frankly it will always be.
The then Barbados Tourism Authority and Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association Capital Radio bus promotional tour of the British mainland was, in my humble opinion, a tremendous idea and maybe this is one of the best approaches to entice New Englanders to our shores. We have this incredible myriad of accommodation options, a wonderful choice of restaurants and very few can take our amazing climate out of the equation.
Added to this is a group of hoteliers, villa rental agencies, attractions and activity operators travelling together with one sole common purpose – to drive additional arrivals.
While a lot more has to be done before this could happen, such a road show could take place when airfares and hotel rates start to fall from the second week of September in that part of the US, helping to keep down participation costs.
Somebody should do the math and ask the question: what reasonable revenue could be generated for the sector and country with a potential 4 000 extra visitors staying an average seven days?
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