Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has said that the Ian Fleming International Airport in St. Mary has tremendous marketing potential, which could bring economic and social benefits for the citizens of the parish and the country in general.
While acknowledging the strong public sentiment against the facility being named after a non-Jamaican, Mr. Bartlett said this should not override the airport’s strong marketing prospects.
Previously called the Boscobel Aerodrome, the airport was upgraded and expanded at a cost of $300 million and renamed in honour of Ian Fleming, the British writer and creator of the world’s most famous fictional spy, James Bond.Fleming lived in nearby Oracabessa for many years where he wrote the Bond novels, which have become blockbuster films.
The facility accommodates owners of private jets, as part of a strategic move by the Government to go after the lucrative high-end tourist market. Just one week after its January 12 opening, a private jet out of Toronto, Canada touched down at the airport with founders of international leather goods company “Roots” on board.
The Tourism Minister, speaking to JIS News in an interview, noted that there were several sons of the soil after whom the airport could have been dedicated, however, he emphasised that the Ian Fleming rebranding provided Jamaica with a “mega, internationally recognised image”.
“Also, by association, Jamaica, as the place where the creativity emerged that enabled (Fleming) to write 13 James Bond novels, provides a very strong appeal. Importantly also, the market segment to which Jamaica is appealing is one to which the name Ian Fleming would have significant resonance,” he said.
Mr. Bartlett further pointed out that the strategic targeting of the higher-end of the leisure market was a critical element of the development and expansion of the tourist industry going forward.
“Our achievement in the mass end of the market has formed the backbone of the tourist industry for many years. However, we recognise that there are other elements of the market that can add significant value, if Jamaica is able to attract them to our country,” he pointed out.
He said the higher-end of the market being targeted through the rebranded airport and other such additions to the tourism product, are persons, who are looking for “investment opportunities, they invest in the real economy, they consume our top quality goods and services, they build and create and they are always on the hunt for strategic alliances and the kind of partnerships that can energise and drive economic growth and development”.
The Minister said these objective realities must “temper the emotion and refocus attention and energy on the new opportunities being created for workers, farmers, entrepreneurs and young people wishing to realize their hopes and aspirations”.
CONTACT: ALLAN BROOKS