In these times of unprecedented coronavirus-related socioeconomic crisis one tends to look for some signs of hope. The recent report (see Friday/Saturday edition) that American Airlines (AA) has scheduled summer service from Dallas-Fort Worth to Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) is an example.
This decision regards only one flight per week between June 5 and August 14, of course, but was based on what the carrier called “a significant demand for travel to Latin America and the Caribbean.” No matter how you look at it, that spells good tidings for the region.
The news is also very welcome because the present winter season understandably remains difficult for the dominant hospitality industry, due to the global COVID-19 situation and new strains. Aruba, which like St. Maarten has the US as biggest source market, recorded a one-third drop in arrivals during January from last December. Travel out of the Netherlands has been strongly discouraged, with Curaçao experiencing an 83 per cent decline in passengers from its main market for January compared to the same month a year ago.
Realistically, things are not likely to improve a whole lot until the current widespread vaccination process has been completed particularly in North America and Europe. This increases the importance of trying to attract more visitors during the normally slower period ahead.
AA’s new flights on Saturdays when most timeshare resorts have their “turnover” day, could be a contributing factor in that sense. “The Friendly Island” has many loyal guests who would prefer to rebook to later in the year than lose their – often annual – vacation in their “home away from home” altogether.
The restart of cruise calls can also be expected perhaps as soon as May and a much-needed upsurge in business is certainly possible during the summer months and beyond, so every effort should be made to facilitate such a development when circumstances allow it. Mind you, restoring the tourism economy to even near former levels will not be easy, but there is enough reason to keep the faith.