Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Dr Wykeham McNeill (right), is presented with a replica of a Southwest Airlines airplane by Captain Mark Schultz, during a welcome reception held on Tuesday at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay to welcome Southwest’s inaugural flight to Jamaica. JIS Photo
By Glenis Rose
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (JIS) -- Minister of tourism and entertainment, Dr Wykeham McNeill, on Tuesday led a team of tourism officials and several representatives from the Montego Bay business community in welcoming the inaugural non-stop international flight from America’s largest carrier, Southwest Airlines to the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.
The flight, from Baltimore/Washington International Airport, which touched down at about 1:00 pm, was the first of three for the day and ushered in the start of daily non-stop service from three major hubs in the USA to Jamaica.
There will be two flights daily from Baltimore/Washington into Montego Bay. The airline will also operate daily service out of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International and Orlando’s International Airports.
McNeill said the entry of Southwest into Jamaica will provide a “tremendous boost for our tourism.”
“Southwest is an airline that has had tremendous success. It’s the largest domestic airline in the United States and goes to almost every nook and cranny … to almost every state in the US … so you are able to get persons out of all parts of the United States. Coming to Jamaica is a tremendous boost for our tourism because it opens up the entire US to their fantastic service and their airlines rewards programmes,” he stated.
He noted that Southwest’s entry into Jamaica is a “huge accomplishment” that spoke to the island’s amazing attractions and strategic positioning in world tourism today.
“We, as a Jamaican people, need to understand the strength of our brand and the attractiveness of our destination and take great pride in them. So today, I welcome Southwest to the start of what I think is going to be a huge partnership and the successes following,” McNeill said.
Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), Dennis Morrison, said he is pleased that Jamaica was selected as the first international destination for the airline.
“We see this as a vote of confidence in the product we offer and (this) encourages us to keep working to deliver quality service and products … we know that the combination of your services and our product will satisfy our visitors … and we look forward to a very long, positive and mutually beneficial relationship,” Morrison said.
During a welcome reception held at the airport, McNeill exchanged gifts with flight captain Mark Schulz, while passengers were presented with gift bags containing Jamaican souvenir items.