TOURISM MATTERS: Good prospects in the offing
As the launch of a direct non-stop service between Los Angeles on the United States Pacific coast and Barbados an impossible dream? Personally, I do not think so. Los Angeles to Barbados is 3 931 miles (Great Circle) or 3 416 nautical miles, so around eight flying hours. Compare that with Los Angeles to Hawaii, which is 2 562 miles (Great Circle) or 2 226 nautical miles.
JetBlue currently operates three aircraft types, which include the Airbus A321, and some versions of this plane have a maximum range of 4 000 nautical miles, which in a two class configuration would allow them to offer their MINT lay-flat beds on section, generating greater overall seat revenue. Again, rather like Boston, we are looking at a massive population reach with an estimated 18.5 million residents in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan region.
Of course, it is not just about the numbers. Demographics are critical to the equation in terms of possibile success. In our favour, Californians are seasoned travellers and commonly fly long distances as a matter of course on vacation. To make it a more attractive proposition, we should work with neighbouring islands and explore all cruise and stay possibilities. A one-week land accommodation stay followed by another week at sea.
The introduction of Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood airport service from next April will help grow arrival numbers in the interim with improved connection times linking the east and west coasts, so it’s not that we have to wait to increase our marketing and building Barbados awareness in California. And within a week of announcing the Fort Lauderdale route, seats went on sale from an introductory US$99 one way fare, which demonstrates the carrier is not sitting back and waiting for things to happen.
Last week I was privileged to greet the direct non-stop Thomas Cook flight from Glasgow and it was a real treat to see the plane was full with around 325 passengers. The aircraft took just an incredible eight hours to reach us and opens up Scotland as an even more viable market. A concentration of efforts by all those involved in tourism is needed if we are going to persuade the carrier to keep the flight operating past January 2016 and we must support the people on the ground in the United Kingdom (UK) by any practical way possible.
During the remaining part of this month The Barbados House in conjunction with the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, Barrhead Travel and Thomsa Cook have mounted a display of Barbadian products and tourism related options to grow visibility and ensure as many people are aware of this new route. Barrhead is the largest independent travel agency in Scotland with 15 branches and one of the top ten in the entire UK, recording an annual turnover exceeding £100 million (BDS$304.2).
Sincere thanks to all involved who have donated travel and accommodation prizes and partners in the re-DISCOVER initiative who have given dinners, notably Tapas, Jumas and Ocean 2, to drive attendance. Those initial 300-plus visitors on the first flight will hopefully become great ambassadors for Barbados when they return home to endure the remainder of the long Scottish winter, by telling friends and work colleagues of their holiday experience.
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