Jamaica Tourism can benefit from US cold weather

Kingston, Jamaica – The historic winter freeze currently gripping vast areas of Northeastern United States and Canada could result in increased arrivals to Jamaica as persons flee the harsh weather caused by a polar vortex to thaw out in warmer destinations.

Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, outlines that “the local tourism sector should reap the rewards of freezing temperatures in North America as persons seek out warmer climates. There has been a slight fallout from flight cancellations but generally speaking we should see an upswing in bookings later in the season.”

“I expect this to give a boost to the positive trend in stopover visitors that began last year and look forward to a very healthy winter tourist season,” Minister McNeill added.

This was reiterated by Director of Tourism John Lynch who said despite a lot of flight cancellations at the height of the winter storm as the week progresses normalcy is returning. “This freezing weather should have a positive effect on bookings down the road and we are confident that persons in the affected region will consider visiting Jamaica to escape the cold,” Mr. Lynch said.

Chief Commercial Officer at Montego Bay Jamaica (MBJ) Airports Limited, Elizabeth Brown Scotton, emphasised that travel is just about back to normal at Sangster International Airport following weather related flight delays and cancellations over the weekend. She outlined that on Saturday, out of 59 operations (each operation comprises an inbound and outbound flight) there were 33 arrival delays and 26 departure delays. The average arrival delay was 103 minutes and the average departure delay was 119 minutes. This flight delay and cancellation trend continued throughout Sunday.

However she noted that “today, Sangster International Airport is showing mostly delays of between 15 to 30 minutes out of Chicago, Toronto and New York.”

At Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA), the trend was much the same. Senior Director, Commercial Development & Planning at NMIA Airports Limited, Alfred McDonald, said the significant delays and cancellation out of New York and Toronto earlier in the week have levelled off and the airport is only experiencing minor delays in flights out of North America.

“The airlines have been managing the process by ensuring that displaced persons are rebooked,” said Mr. McDonald. “We are encouraging affected passengers to call their airline and make the appropriate arrangements. Also, we ask that ‘meeters’ and ‘greeters’ call ahead of time to ensure that flights are on schedule. Contact with the airlines is what is important at this time,” he added.

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