Westjet extends summer flights

Canadian market boosts Cayman tourism

Canadian airline Westjet has announced that it will be continuing a Toronto-Cayman service through the summer months.

The Canadian airline will be running weekly Sunday services to and from Owen Roberts International Airport from Sunday, 1 May for the rest of the summer season. Currently, the carrier

serves Cayman thrice-weekly for the extent of the high season.

Acting Director of Tourism Shomari Scott said that negotiations had been ongoing and based on the good performance of the initial flights.

“We’ve been doing very well throughout the winter with Westjet, and they’ve been pleased with how we’ve been doing from a cooperative perspective. Our country manager [Paul Minich] has been in talks with Westjet and they decided it made sense to extend it through the summer.

“Of course it helps from a tourism perspective that we will get continued airlift year-round, and it’s even more important that we do even more work to ensure those flights are full during the summer so that we don’t lose that year-round lift,” said Mr. Scott.

He added that Westjet’s onward connectivity also helped open up other areas of Canada.

Robert Palmer of Westjet noted that one reason the service had been extended was to provide some continuity of presence.

“Obviously, our goal is to see all of our routes become year-round. It is also easier in some ways to operate a route year-round than it is to operate it seasonally. The service is performing satisfactorily, but we would certainly like to see improvements in the months to come. Hence, the reason we decided to extend it into the summer.

“The drop to weekly service recognises that demand is likely higher in the winter than in summer. However, it also illustrates that we wish to retain a presence on the island so that we can continue to build awareness around WestJet, WestJet Vacations and our Toronto-Cayman service.”

Figures boosted

Visitors from Canada have contributed to the Caribbean’s tourism figures considerably.

The strong Canadian dollar and good performance of the economy in difficult times has led to a significant increase in visitors across the region. Jaime Moench of Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, observed the trend while attending January’s Caribbean Marketplace trade conference.

“Every single wholesaler that we talked to said that their major growth right now was from Canada, which is something that the destination also sees. It’s up [in 2010] and pacing that way for the start of 2011. Everybody we talked to and that came to our booth and our meetings said that they felt a strong connection to the marketing efforts in Canada that the Department of Tourism has begun and really pressed forward with. They feel that the customer has a better knowledge of the product now than ever before.

“Their demand from Canada is up exponentially compared to other destinations. I think that’s a very successful message that the DoT has done a fantastic job on.”

Increased airlift

Mr. Scott said that one of the strategic objectives of the department, working alongside the Ministerial Council for Tourism, is to increase airlift and to work with secondary markets in addition to the major United States visitor source. Marketing efforts and promotions such as Get Warm were extended to Canada and the Westjet flights also helped bring down prices for the Air Canada flights, he noted.

“They are very aggressive [in their pricing] and Air Canada is becoming more aggressive with their pricing as well as their advertising efforts; we’re able to reach a market we weren’t able to reach previously. All of the marketing components are working together in unison to build and increase capacity in the Canadian market.”

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