(Jamaica Observer) Jamaican and Trinidadian entrepreneurs are potential investors in an airline carrier aimed at tapping into the South American market.
The Brazilian Ambassador to Jamaica, Antonio F Da Costa e Silva Neto, revealed last week that one investment group has specifically set its sights on Brazil, South America’s largest market with a population of almost 200 million.
“We are of the understanding that there is one company — which is Jamaican and Trinidadian — that is looking at building an airline for the South American market,” Da Costa e Silva Neto said at a recent Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica breakfast meeting.
“Their idea is to fly from Sao Paulo (Brazil) each day to a different Caribbean destination,” the ambassador said.
The disclosure followed an assessment by Da Costa e Silva Neto describing Jamaica as having failed to seriously tap into Brazil’s lucrative tourist market, with just a mere 1,431 Brazilians visiting Jamaica from January to November 2011.
The diplomat suggested that the lack of a direct flight between the two countries is an impediment to Jamaica’s attracting Brazilian tourists.
“They are still in exploratory stages, but this (business plan) has given us an idea of ways in which we could work around this issue,” he said.
The Ambassador did not name the parties involved in the plan, but a Jamaica Observer source said existing Jamaican airline companies are part of the talks.
“Anything of this nature would entail a collaborative effort; Jamaican entrepreneurs are stepping up to the plate,” said the airline industry insider, adding “It is assiduously being investigated, but I can’t speak much to it at this point.”
The development comes a few weeks after new airline company Fly Jamaica announced its intention to operate between Kingston and Guyana, located on the northern coast of South America but culturally a part of the anglophone Caribbean.
Jamaica Tourist Board figures show that Latin America — South America and Central America — accounted for 13,400 stopover arrivals to Jamaica, less than one per cent of total visitors, in 2010. Mexico produced the most visitors, with 1,984, followed by Argentina with 1,779 visitors, and Brazil with 1,683 visitors.
Da Costa e Silva Neto is confident that the Jamaican tourism industry can improve its showing in the region, especially in Brazil.
“I think this country (Jamaica) brings a lot of potential,” he said.
“People argue that Jamaica has a lot of the same things Brazil has, such as beaches and so forth,” he said. “Partly true, but Brazilians like to travel, and like to travel to places where they feel good; I cannot see a Brazilian not having fun in Jamaica.”