BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday June 30, 2010 – The new direct flight between Barbados and Brazil has got Tourism Minister Richard Sealy excited about the possibility of a new market for his country’s tourism industry. And even LIAT is considering a partnership with the Brazilian airline.
Speaking after the inaugural GOL (Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes) flight from Sao Paulo to the Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados over the weekend, Sealy said Brazil’s emergence as a powerhouse economy is something Barbados can tap into.
“There is a buzz among the travel trade in Brazil that tells us we are onto something and that we are developing something,” he said, adding that the opportunity goes beyond that country. “Argentina doesn’t want to be left out. This inaugural flight had bookings from Argentina, so we are already seeing benefits going beyond Brazil and therefore, yes we are developing the huge market of Brazil, but we are in fact looking at the entire South American cone and I think that that is good for Barbados as we develop our tourism into the future.”
“I truly believe we are blazing a new trail for Barbados’ tourism…and only good things can come from this possibility. It fits right in with government’s strategy, in terms of trying to broaden our source markets, and we are going to be looking at other possibilities. We are looking at our air links as well and what we can do with the existing markets. Greater air connections into Barbados are critically important and we will continue to do that work for all of the people of Barbados,” Sealy added.
The Tourism Minister also indicated that the new service offers the opportunity to correct the huge trade imbalance currently in existence, where some US$60 million in goods, mainly wood, paper and some industrial products, were imported from Brazil annually with only under US$1 million exported to that country.
“Clearly, with a direct flight there’s the opportunity to reduce that imbalance and I think our businessmen are quite excited about the possibilities of that flight into the largest city of Brazil,” he said.
Sealy said that excitement was also being created in the region as LIAT and GOL are now in extensive discussions to find ways to harmonise their schedules.
“We are already functioning as a hub in terms of flights going to the United Kingdom and North America so indeed if we can now add Brazil to that, we think it is another possibility and to help LIAT with the challenges to develop that regional traffic as well,” he said.
Director of Planning and Statistics for GOL, Mauricio Emboaba, said the new Brazil-Barbados service comes nine months after discussions.
He noted that Brazil is the fifth largest market in the world with 60 million boardings every year in the domestic market and about 100 million in the total sector including international flights. Emboaba said that GOL commands about 40 per cent of that market.