New opportunities are expected to emerge for the parish of St. Mary following the recent inauguration of scheduled commercial flights into the Ian Fleming International Airport in Boscobel.
On Thursday, June 16, the airport welcomed an interCaribbean Airways flight from Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.
The flights are expected to occur once per month with a view to transition to once weekly. This is ahead of November’s planned commencement of flights from American Airlines into the port.
Member of Parliament for Western St. Mary, Robert Montague, said the area’s “excellent service, surrounded by wonderful people and great weather”, is marketable to international travellers and should create new developments in the parish.
“We want the people to come in here, so that all those houses surrounding us will get the Airbnb passengers, all of our shops and restaurants will get the business and our taxi operators will get the business,” he said, while addressing a welcome ceremony for the inaugural interCaribbean flight to the airport.
Mr. Montague noted that the development plan for the airport is to extend the building and construct shops.
As such, he is encouraging St. Mary residents to prepare themselves to take advantage of these structures and “make use of the opportunities that are open to them”.
“Do not be left out of this journey; go to the bank and start to put the money together to take one of the shops,” he urged.
Mayor of Port Maria, Councillor Richard Creary, noted that “persons have already started to market their developments based on the proximity to the airport”.
“I can also say that I’ve received numerous calls from persons wanting to buy land in this area. It (the airport) will definitely push up our land value in St. Mary and it will assist us in terms of our general development,” the Mayor said.
In the meantime, Mr. Montague noted that while there has been some discussion surrounding the international call sign for the airport being Ocho Rios, Jamaica, he said that “a good facility anywhere it is, is a good facility”.
He maintained that “what is important is they (visitors) know the tour operators and the people who are making souvenirs”.
President of the Airports Authority of Jamaica, Audley Diedrich, noted that the OCJ call sign is for marketing purposes.
“There is no doubt that in our country, the town of Ocho Rios is known across the globe, hence the reason why the airlines use it. It’s not to deprive you your right to own this facility,” he said.
The Ian Fleming International Airport is located just 15km from Ocho Rios. It became an international port of entry in 2011.