Saudia, Emirates, Etihad Airways flights to Jamaica – a Tourism Revolution?
Jamaica could become the aviation hub for the Caribbean connecting to new markets that include the United Arab Emirates, or Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia already became a global tourism hot spot. With a little help, Jamaica could be on its way to become the center for Caribbean Tourism.
Saudi Arabia has the money and connections. Jamaica is seen as a global tourism trend setter. A new winning partnership is in the making, and perhaps on fast track.
A revolution Bob Marley style may have done the magic. A new era of a tourism opportunity just started in Jamaica, when the Minister of Tourism for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia HE Ahmed Al Khateeb was seen with his host, the Minister of Tourism for Jamaica, HE Edmund Bartlett. Both ministers were wearing a baseball hat indicating a “Revolution.”
Known for always thinking out of the box and having a global mindset the Minister of Tourism for Jamaica, the Hon. Edmund Bartlett was seen all smiling when he met with his Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb the Minister of Tourism for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi minister was in Jamaica for the recently concluded 66th regional meeting of the World Tourism Organization.
This was an opportunity to discuss the possibility of an air link between the Caribbean and the Gulf region. Such an air link would be an opportunity for Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean to establish a never before seen opportunity to connect the Middle East, India, Africa, Asia with direct air links to the Caribbean. Jamaica could become the airline hub with feeder flights from other Caribbean countries to connect.
This would not only generate new markets for the Caribbean, but also increase connectivity between island nations.
Barlett said about his meeting with the Saudi Minister: “We talked about air connectivity and how to link the Middle East, the Asian market, and the areas within that side of the world. We talked about mega airlines that are in those areas. Particularly Etihad, Emirates and Saudi Arabian Airlines.”
“The agreement that Minister Al Khateeb will bring to the table are those major airline partners, while I will be responsible for coordinating with the countries that are cooperating with us in the multi-destination tourism framework, to enable a Hub. Having such a hub in Jamaica traffic can move from the Middle East and come into our area and have a distribution from one country to the next,” he added.
Bartlett thinks this possible multi-destination approach is critical to the development of tourism in the region and will broaden the market to create the critical mass that is needed to attract larger airlines and major tour operators to become interested in Jamaica and the region.
It’s not only about air connectivity from gateways in the UAE, or Saudi Arabia to Jamaica. It’s the feeder flight opportunities from India, Africa, Central and South East Asia via the Gulf gateway to the Caribbean without having to worry about strict U.S. visa policies.
Jamaica could become the tourism and global business hub for the Caribbean region.
“For us, this is a game-changer in the making because small countries like Jamaica will never have the capacity to have large airlines like Emirates Airlines or Saudia coming to us with direct flights. However, we can benefit from these airlines coming into the Caribbean space, landing here in Jamaica but having distribution to other countries in the region,” he explained.
Al Khateeb, was also firm on strengthening connectivity between the Middle East and the Caribbean.
The Saudi Minister said in Jamaica: “We discussed with my colleagues very critical topics and we are in support of creating bridges between the Middle East and the Caribbean. I thank Minister Bartlett for this opportunity and look forward to expanding the corporation for expanding the Middle East and the Caribbean,” he said.
Both ministers also discussed other areas of possible collaboration, including human capital development, community tourism and building resilience within the region.
Bartlett explained: “One of the key areas that we discussed was the development of resilience and crisis management, as well as sustainability as critical pillars on which the recovery of tourism must be predicated. But more so, the importance of building capacity within countries that have tourism as the driver of their economies – countries that are weakly resourced and vulnerable to disruptions. We are going to see collaboration in the building out of the resilience centre here in Jamaica and the resilience centre that is in Saudi Arabia,” said Bartlett.
Currently there is no timeline on these ideas, but certainly tourism is moving forward in Jamaica and beyond – and it may not only be with North American and UK visitors only.