The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL - - Caribbean360.com

The Sang­ster In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Mon­tego Bay last week wel­comed a record 14,000 pas­sen­gers – the largest num­ber of pas­sen­gers pass­ing through the air­port in a sin­gle day.

The ar­rivals, just eight days into the win­ter tourist sea­son, are a wel­come boost to the lo­cal tourism sec­tor.

The visi­tors ar­rived on 55 flights – 10 long-haul runs, four com­ing from Ger­many and six from the United King­dom.

On hand to wel­come them were Chair­man of the Ja­maica Tourist Board (JTB) and the Air­ports Author­ity of Ja­maica (AAJ), Den­nis Mor­ri­son; Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer (CEO) of the Pass­port, Im­mi­gra­tion and Cit­i­zen­ship Agency (PICA), Jen­nifer McDon­ald; Pres­i­dent of the AAJ, Aud­ley Diedrick; and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer (CEO) of MBJ Air­ports Lim­ited, op­er­a­tors of Sang­ster In­ter­na­tional, Dr. Rafael Echevarne.

Mor­ri­son said the num­ber of ar­rivals rep­re­sents a 20 per cent in­crease over the cor­re­spond­ing pe­riod last year, which he at­trib­uted to the pro­mo­tional work of the Min­istry of Tourism and En­ter­tain­ment, the JTB and its other agen­cies.

“There have been a lot of ac­tiv­i­ties mar­ket­ing Ja­maica as a des­ti­na­tion, work­ing with var­i­ous tour op­er­a­tors. A par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant fac­tor in [last Tues­day’s] turnout in terms of visi­tors is the air and sea ar­range­ment with Thom­son, in which the pas­sen­gers ar­rive here to go on cruises; also, on the de­par­ture side, you see peo­ple who ar­rived a couple weeks ago leav­ing,” he said.

Mor­ri­son com­mended the staff of MBJ Air­ports Lim­ited for the ef­fi­ciency with which the visi­tors were pro­cessed, not­ing that the ac­tiv­i­ties “pro­ceeded like clock­work”.

“They have done a very ef­fi­cient job in terms of ex­tend­ing cour­te­sies to the pas­sen­gers and as­sist­ing them in many ways . . . The lines have moved pretty smoothly and it’s quite ob­vi­ous that a lot of prepa­ra­tion went into ac­com­mo­dat­ing all of th­ese pas­sen­gers here to­day,” he said.

McDon­ald, for her part, said PICA was well pre­pared for the in­crease in ar­rivals with newly re­cruited im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers be­ing as­signed along with sup­port from Kingston.

Dr. Echevarne said MBJ Air­ports added fa­cil­i­ties such as a new se­cu­rity lane with ex­tra ma­chines and metal de­tec­tors and sev­eral cus­tomer agents were as­signed to pro­vide sup­port to the pas­sen­gers.

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