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Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says Jamaica has recovered from its COVID-19 downturn in all major markets to where a record 283,000 airline seats are now expected out of Canada for the upcoming winter tourist season.

Mr. Bartlett, who is currently in Canada meeting with travel partners and other tourism interests, said it is an “amazing” reversal of fortune coming out of the island’s second largest visitor market (behind the United States).

“So far, we have been successful in commitments that will see the number of airline seats increased by 26,000 more than was recorded in 2019, pre-COVID,” the Minister told JIS News on November 15.

Mr. Bartlett said that major travel partners such as Air Canada Vacations, WestJet, Transat and Sunwing have confirmed the commitments, adding that “the recovery is real… much quicker than anybody would have predicted”.

“COVID-19 has certainly taken its toll over the past two years, plunging the global markets, notably tourism, in a frighteningly long period of uncertainty. We have been extremely blessed to see a quicker-than-predicted recovery and we are not about to sit on our laurels where we can be caught napping,” the Minister said.

Mr. Bartlett, whose travelling delegation includes Director of Tourism, Donovan White and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) Regional Director for Canada, Angella Bennett, said that “we continue to have meetings with our airline partners and tour operators with a view that the best is yet to come”.

“So far, we have been engaged in a series of activities between various segments of the market that take in Toronto, Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal, and Ottawa. We are satisfied that the market has bounced back post-COVID-19,” the Minister added.

“The 283,000 seats will, indeed, go a long way in bringing us back to our levels of over 300,000 visitors that we had during the immediate pre-COVID period, but the objective is to get to 400,000 where we were in 2010,” he said.

Mr. Bartlett noted that the Canadian visit is also being used to launch the JTB’s new ‘Come Back’ campaign, and that there is every reason to believe that in 2023/24, “we will see a full recovery” of the Canadian market to the levels that “we were in the best of times in 2010”.

“The JTB must be commended for its steadfastness and unwavering belief in the tourism product,” the Minister said.

“It has not been the easiest of roads getting the US, European and now Canadian markets back on track so fast… but we did it. Director Donovan White has led from the front, and we are now reaping the benefits. We have had a long and beautiful history with Canada as a tourism and trade partner and will not relent on our drive to make it even the more successful,” he added.

Meanwhile, Canada’s High Commissioner to Jamaica, Emina Tudakovic, said she is an admirer of the island’s tenacity and doggedness in the international tourism marketplace, singling out Minister Bartlett and other local stakeholders for their work.

“I really like the hustle of the Jamaica Tourist Board and your Minister,” High Commissioner Tudakovic told journalists and tourism stakeholders at the recent launch of the 26th annual Baxter Media Sandals Travel Industry Golf Tournament at Sandals Ocho Rios, St. Ann.

“Jamaica shares what I would call a multifaceted relationship with Canada and which, of course, prompted me to apply for a diplomatic posting on the island,” she said.

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