TOURISM stakeholders in the northern section of the island have welcomed a recent announcement by Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett of plans to expand the runway at Ian Fleming International Airport in Boscobel, St Mary.
Chairman of the Runaway Bay/ Ocho Rios Chapter of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Vana Taylor, said that the expansion of the runway is great news for hoteliers and other tourism interests in the region.
“That is such wonderful news. The growth in this area will be tremendous,” Taylor said, adding that hoteliers were also excited about the possibility of international flights coming in and out of the airport before the expansion.
Taylor said with some 10,000 rooms expected to be constructed, the expansion of the runway will see visitors to the island spending less time travelling from airports to hotels.
“This area will become so attractive. This will make us marketable; we will gain market shares,” she added.
She said with persons having to travel long distances from eastern parishes to St James in particular, the accommodation of larger aircrafts could ease the fatigue of the long ride.
President of the St Ann Chamber of Commerce, Pixley Irons also believes that the expansion of the airport’s runway will bring benefits to St Ann and neighbouring parishes.
“It will be very good for the area if it can accommodate bigger aircrafts,” he said.
Irons noted, too, that instead of persons in St Ann, St Mary and neighbouring parishes travelling to and from Kingston and St James, they could use connecting flights at that airport and added that the expansion of the runway would be a great investment for domestic flights.
Irons also stated that the expansion could see employment opportunities in the area increase.
“This is very good; that should have been done long ago,” he said.