TT exports of goods and services to Curacao is estimated at $357 million and it is the hope that Caribbean Airline’s new direct flight between the countries will strengthen their ties.
So said Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell at a welcome ceremony for CAL’s inaugural fight to Curacao at the Curacao International Airport on Friday afternoon.
Mitchell told guests it was important that the two countries remained connected through air transport and closer coordination in tourism and trade. “With this new service we expect to further develop the business and leisure markets between Curacao and TT... One of our main priorities at the Ministry of Tourism is the expansion of airlift as a means of increasing visitor arrivals to our destination.”
He said benefits included competitive ticket prices, increased availability of direct service, and increased options for air travel. It also gave people the opportunity for a “quick escape” to either country to experience different cultures, festivals, cuisine, ecotourism, leisure, and shopping that each has to offer.
He said the introduction of the new route represented TT’s commitment to regional development by building bridges and fostering mutually beneficial partnerships.
Also speaking at the event was Zita Jesus-Leito, Curacao Minister of Traffic, Transport and Urban Planning who said the route was an important step in improving productivity in her country.
Curacao always had a close relationship with Venezuela. She said the Venezuela crisis has negatively affected the number of passengers flying to and via their airport. “The number of passengers went down for a couple of years now but we are taking a turn for the better. Passenger numbers are increasing and it brings me great pleasure that Caribbean Airlines contributes to increasing the number of tourists and business people visiting Curacao.”
At the ceremony in TT, CAL CEO Garvin Medera noted that the direct flights on Mondays and Fridays between TT and Curacao was the airline’s twenty-first destination providing a “superior customer experience.” He said is provided 300 seats per week and there has been a “tremendous response” so far.
He also announced that soon CAL would begin weekly flights between Kingston, Jamaica and Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands as well as Kingston and Havana, Cuba.
Curacao Tourist Board CEO Paul Pennicook added that the direct flight was an opportunity to expand tourism and economic ties in the Caribbean region, and make what Curacao has to offer, including beaches, dive cites, colourful architecture, culture, and entertainment events, more accessible.
He added that the direct flight “is an opportunity for Curacao to not only expand and strengthen economic ties with TT but it will certainly help us to grow out tourism and tourism from the entire Caribbean region.”