Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan flanked by the chief executive officer of the national airline, Cayman Airways, and Barbados Tourism Minister, Ian Gooding-Edghill, who addressed the news conference virtually, said the initiative would begin on October 18.
Bryan, who is also chairman of the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Association (CTO), described the initiative as a “game changer” opening up travel between the islands and the eastern Caribbean.
“The vision is to expand the airline’s connectivity to key locations situated to the north, south, east and west of our islands,” he said, announcing also a second weekly flight to Los Angeles.
“Suffice it to say that this new service to Barbados is a game changer for regional connectivity. It will deliver a faster and cheaper alternative, travelling between the Cayman Islands and Barbados than any other currently existing route on the market.”
Bryan said that the new service would make it possible to travel from one side of the Caribbean to the other within the same day without connecting in Miami.
“I know that for all the Bajans on the island and the other Caribbean people here, who call these islands home this unprecedented level of connectivity will be welcomed news,” he said, adding that on arrival in Barbados, direct flights will be available to other Caribbean.
He said from a strategic standpoint the Cayman-Barbados route will deliver several key benefits that will help to improve “our competitive advantage”.
“For example, this will allow for visitors from several underserved European markets such as Germany and Finland to access the Cayman islands more directly. It will expand our island’s reach within the United Kingdom by adding connectivity from major airports in addition to the current British Airways service from Heathrow”.
He said the Cayman-Barbados initiative would function as “a catalyst for economic growth and business development”.
For his part, Gooding-Edghill said one his goals has been to increase airlift into Bridgetown and the new announcement as well as the charter arrangement with the Air Bahamas underscored “our commitment to intra -regional travel.
“This agreement with the Cayman islands is a step in the right direction for Destination Barbados as we look to further increase connectivity in the region and open up opportunities for Barbadians to travel to the northern Caribbean and vice versa.
“Our reports continue to reveal that the Caribbean market is gaining momentum as airlift increases throughout the region. While we are getting back to our pre-20219 levels, many of our Caribbean airline partners are steadily increasing capacity as quickly and as logically possible bearing in mind the challenges the airline industry battling with globally with respect to securing enough aircraft to meet the demands,” Gooding-Edghill said.
“We as a ministry and destination will continue to work to increase our airlift options to ensure Barbados remains connected with the US, the Caribbean and beyond,” he added.
The announcement of the new route comes as the Cayman Islands over the last weekend announced that the number of overnight guests was now nearing pre-pandemic levels.
The Ministry of Tourism said that tourism accommodation taxes and fees have already surpassed the annual budget forecast in the first six months and based on this trend, total revenue this year is expected to surpass the total for 2019, which was the highest on record.
According to figures released here, revenue from tourism taxes for the first six months of this year amounted to CI$28.8 million, which is CI$12.4 million more for the projected figure in the budget, and an estimated CI$3 million over the target for the whole year.
The ministry said that between January and June, 235,370 stayover guests visited the Cayman Islands, which is 84 per cent of the number of overnight visitors in the first six months of 2019, Cayman’s busiest year to date.
“Tourism performance over the first half of the year has surpassed expectations and underscores the significant rebound in our tourism industry,” Bryan said.
“Revenue collection influenced by the increase in the Average Daily Rate (ADR) of accommodations over the past year is indicating a strong and sustained interest in the Cayman Islands as a premier travel destination.”