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Air Canada Flight Suspensions Challenge Cayman Islands Tourism

Air Canada Flight Suspensions Challenge Cayman Islands Tourism
Written by Publishing Team

The suspension of Air Canada flights on January 5 to 14 Caribbean destinations through April poses a challenge to the Cayman Islands tourism industry as the island seeks to make a slow recovery from the travel shutdown due to the 2020 pandemic.

Effective January 24, Air Canada has suspended flights to Antigua, Aruba, Curaçao and Exuma in the Bahamas, Grenada, Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo, Samana in the Dominican Republic, Bermuda, Havana, Cuba, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Martin and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

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Under the changes, Air Canada’s Rogue fleet suspended service to Grand Cayman from January 24 to April 30. The airline only resumed flights to the Cayman Islands in December, operating two weekly flights between Grand Cayman and Toronto with Air Canada Rouge service, the Cayman Compass reports.

In a January 6 statement, Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and Transportation officials called Air Canada’s suspension an “unexpected change” and said the Cayman Islands will continue to host Canadian travelers arriving on WestJet Airlines, which operates weekly flights between Toronto and Grand Cayman.

“We look forward to continuing to welcome Canadian travelers through alternative routes and airlines serving Grand Cayman,” said Kenneth Bryan, Minister of Tourism for the Cayman Islands.

The Cayman Islands reopened its borders on November 20, 2021, notably later than many other Caribbean destinations, as officials consistently pursued a calculated reopening strategy. Visitors to Cayman are currently required to apply online for approval, upload proof of medical insurance and submit proof of a negative PCR test result within 24 hours of arrival.

Vaccinated travelers are exempt from quarantine but are required to take three lateral flow tests on the second, fifth and tenth days of their stay. Travelers who test positive are required to self-isolate for 10 to 14 days.

The Cayman Islands offers tests at many approved medical sites for about $30 per person. Passengers who have not been vaccinated or who are traveling with unvaccinated children must self-quarantine for 14 days.

Some Cayman travel stakeholders have blamed Air Canada’s suspension on the country’s entry guidelines. Mark Langevin, president of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, called for “changes in [Cayman Islands] regulations and improving our operations,” saying airlines facing operational challenges are choosing to “re-allocate their aircraft toward destinations.” [with] Less restrictions [that are] more accessible to visitors.

In December, Rosa Harris, Cayman Islands tourism director, said the country’s tourism industry was on track to return to 40 percent of its overnight visitors from 2019, targeting 2017,027 visitors for this year.

Ironically, in the Cayman Compass Report, Harris said the “most difficult” aspect of reopening was securing the airlift “because many airlines were balancing staff shortages globally against returning to destinations.” Harris said Cayman has “a very high rate of return for travelers and demand is strong.”

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