Jamaica has recently received several accolades designating it as a sought-after tourist destination and solidifying its spot as one of the most visited destinations in the Caribbean. With tourism making up a large percentage of the country’s GDP, it is clear that expanding the island’s capacity to bring in more visitors will bring more money into the country. Prime Minister Andrew Holness has stated that he is impressed with the current expansion going on in Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.
“What I do know about the Sangster International Airport is that it is not just an airport, but it is an iconic symbol of Montego Bay. It is an attraction in and [by] itself,” Holness said. “There is no question in my mind that the future for Jamaica is a bright one and [to the point] where the country can attract far more visitors than those who are presently coming.”
Holness stated that Jamaica’s popularity would undoubtedly bring more people to the island if the current capacity of airports and cruise ports were increased. “The only reason why we don’t have more people coming is because of our own issues. The capacity of our airports and cruise ports… once we increase those capacities, increase our security, increase the socio-intelligence of the population… to treat with an influx of new business and new people coming in… we will have us a wonderful Jamaica,” Holness said.
The Prime Minister said that the future of tourism in the country is poised to be great and praised all those in the tourism sector for their work in keeping tourism alive for the duration of the global pandemic. Protecting the tourism brand of Jamaica is a top priority for the Prime Minister, and he asked the country’s residents to protect it as well. He pointed out that the tourism industry in Jamaica has always had elevated levels of reliability and prosperity, calling it one of the country’s main sources of growth.
In February of this year, it was announced that many airports on the island will receive upgrades that will cost over $200 million over the next few years. These upgrades will improve the experience for travelers and make it easier to get around the island. One of the upgrades includes an upgrade to Sangster International’s runway at a cost of $34 million. The work to extend the runway at Sangster International Airport from 2,662 meters to 3,060 meters is a vital part of the airport’s expansion plans. An extra 90 meters of runway safety area will be added at each end of the runway will help ensure the safety of all passengers and crew.
MBJ Chief Executive Officer Shane Munroe has noted that the extension will bring in more passengers from more locations since it will enable the airport to welcome larger planes. “We are looking forward to receiving ever-increasing wide-body and long-haul aircraft from nations as far as Europe and beyond,” Munroe said.
Montego Bay isn’t the only area seeing growth, and Sangster International isn’t the only airport being updated. Recently, there have even been talks of adding a fourth international airport to the country’s offerings. For the time being, all existing airports are receiving funding for upgrades that will aid the country in furthering its tourism efforts.
At Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, upgrades will include the development of runway paving, a two-megawatt solar system, and a waste-water treatment plant rehabilitation project. This will help to improve the airport and make it more efficient.
The Ian Fleming International Airport in St Mary is set to get a new fire station. It is estimated that the construction will cost $130 million. The project broke ground in March and is expected to be completed by December. There are currently talks with several major airlines about having their smaller planes land at the airport, so the fire station will be a much-needed aspect of that undertaking.
With all of the incoming upgrades Jamaica’s efforts to further its tourism brand are sure to pay off, and travelers will also reap the rewards as travel to the country becomes easier, more enjoyable, and more affordable.
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