ST JAMES, Jamaica – Prime Minister Andrew Holness says Jamaica’s attractions, including the “iconic” Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St James, continue to be major pull factors in bringing more visitors to the island.
In a release, Holness, who completed a recent tour of western Jamaica where he opened a new fire brigade station in Montego Bay and visited the Sangster International Airport to inspect ongoing infrastructural development, said the country’s tourism future stands on the cusp of greatness and that all stakeholders should be commended for their gallant efforts in keeping the industry afloat throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Prime Minister said that it is against this background that he is impressed with the massive expansion work being carried out at the airport, adding that on completion, it is bound to be on par with any world-class facility.
“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, using the opportunity to urge Jamaicans to continue to protect the tourism brand.
He noted that tourism is one of the country’s main engines of growth and labelled it an industry that has consistently demonstrated a high level of profitability and dependability.
“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 noted.
“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],” the Prime Minister added, while highlighting the value-added nature of community tourism, where visitors are offered the opportunity to explore Jamaica safely, to visit village communities and interact with locals, as something he would love to see increase.
In the meantime, the runway extension work at Sangster International Airport has commenced. The work includes the establishment of Runway End Safety Areas (RESA), relocation of thresholds and navigational aids, and increasing the take-off run available (TORA) for the primary runway from 2,662 metres to 3,060 metres. The extension work is part of a US$70-million runway expansion project. When completed, the runway is expected to reposition the airport to accommodate larger and more powerful airplanes, while significantly reducing arrival and departure times.