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Westjet to Begin Flights to Barbados

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Westjet to Begin Flights to Barbados

Barbados is looking to Canada for an increase in tourist arrivals, and perhaps lower fares.

Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy says Canadian low-fare carrier Westjet is due to begin service to Barbados in November, just ahead of the 2008-2009 winter tourist season.

Westjet, which started flying in 1996, services 47 destinations in Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean, using a fleet of 75 fuel-efficient Boeing 737 aircraft.

Minister Sealy told parliament that his government was looking to market the service, perhaps using the famous Barbados singing group, the Merrymen, to seeing a significant rise in the number of Canadian visitors to the island.

“In 1979, [some] 99,000 Canadians came to Barbados,” he reported.

“Last year only 55,000 came. So we have a lot of room there that we can grow.”

From November Westjet will be flying from Toronto to Barbados.

“That is additional seats from an emerging market, a market we used to do very well in the past, but our figures fell off,” Sealy noted.

“Westjet is dominant on the west coast of Canada as well. So even though they are coming out of Toronto with their connections beyond the gateway, we should get some business from that area – Edmonton, British Columbia, and Calgary area.

“And, of course, it gives Air Canada some competition also.

They have had their way on that route for too long, and with some competition, we should have more competitive prices concerning our service out of Toronto and Montreal,” he said.

Barbados is considering “a nostalgia tour with the Merrymen” to bring back “those days in the 1970s when Canadian business was booming”, Sealy says.

Minister Sealy also spoke of plans for additional airlift out of Europe. He said Barbados had negotiated the other Condor flight from Europe.

“The euro is firm and we’re happy about that, because that is, of course, more dollars, more foreign exchange for Barbados,” he pointed out.

Barbados annually welcomes more than a million visitors. The number of tourists – long stay visitors – who came in 2007 amounted to 574,533, compared with 616,354 cruise passengers who stopped in for a day or less.

The increase over the 2006 performance was 14.3% for the cruise sector, and 2.1% for the longer stays.

At the end of November 2007, visitor arrivals from the traditional markets of the UK, Canada, and the US had grown by 6.3%, 7.7%, and 2.7%, respectively.

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June 25th, 2008