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Jamaica’s source markets for tourists are being further expanded and diversified to include several countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, said that the Government has engaged counterpart officials and airline executives in those regions regarding flight arrangements.

He said that the market diversification is in recognition that traditional locations like the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom, which he described as legacy markets, could be upended by the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia conflict, among other disruptions.

Consequently, Mr. Bartlett, who has been leading the talks for the Government, said steps are being taken to “future proof” the local industry and safeguard the interests of all stakeholders, including small and medium tourism enterprises (SMTEs).

He was speaking during the eighth ‘Christmas in July’ trade show at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, on Tuesday (July 12).

Mr. Bartlett said the partnerships forged for aviation services will be facilitated under Memoranda of Understanding (MOU), among other arrangements.

He advised that a MoU is expected to be signed with President of the Republic of Namibia, His Excellency Hage Geingob, during his four-day State visit to Jamaica from August 4 to 7.

Other agreements have been or are to be signed and discussions held with counterparts in Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa, he indicated.

In the case of Nigeria, the Minister noted that Jamaica welcomed a charter flight from Lagos into Montego Bay during the pandemic.

That arrangement, he said, “will get new legs, as we move into the new phase of the operations”, during the inaugural Caribbean African Tourism Forum, which will be held in Jamaica on February 17, 2023.

The Minister said that the Forum is intended to “connect Africa and the Caribbean”.

The event will coincide with the launch of Global Tourism Resilience Day, also in in Jamaica, on that day.

“So, the African connection is coming together. We are excited about … what that will do, in terms of providing the … marketing activities that the Jamaican economy needs,” the Minister added.

Mr. Bartlett said he also met with executives of Royal Jordanian Airlines in Amman, regarding Middle Eastern/Levant countries.

These include Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon and sections of Turkey, the Minister said, noting that discussions with Turkish Airlines “are also on [the] cards”.

“So, we are making sure that we future proof the market … and put ourselves in a position, after the recovery, to have exponential growth,” he noted.

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