B’dos welcomes GOL airlines
THE inaugural flight of GOL airlines from São Paulo, Brazil touched down in Barbados late last night and, according to officials in the industry, it is the first step towards greater relations between the two countries.
Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, was the first to disembark the plane, which was piloted by Captain Ricardo Ferrari and bore Brazilian and Barbadian flags from the cockpit windows.
The Minister was accompanied by Ambassador of Barbados to Brazil, Yvette Goddard, tourism officials, members of the media and a large Brazilian contingent, who were greeted by Minister of International Business and International Transport, George Hutson, Ambassador of Brazil to Barbados, Appio Cludio Acquarone and other officials from the tourism ministry, Barbados Tourism Authority and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, to name a few.
Speaking during a reception that was held to celebrate the momentous occasion, Minister Sealy thanked those persons who were instrumental in making the arrival of the GOL airline a reality. He told the specially invited guests that there is a lot of excitement about this link, not only in Brazil, but also in Argentina.
“Argentina doesn’t want to be left out. This inaugural [flight] had bookings from Argentina so we are already seeing benefits beyond Brazil and therefore we are developing, yes the huge market of Brazil, but we are looking at the entire South American cone and I think that is good for Barbados as we develop our tourism future.”
He said that there are “collateral benefits” of the flight, particularly in the area of trade. “Moving from 500 tourists to 5 000 per year would mean a narrowing of the imbalance at the same time there are so many opportunities for our business community, the cultural aspect, sports teams and opportunities for Brazilians to learn English and Barbadians to learn Portuguese.”
The Minister said that he is pleased to hear that LIAT and GOL have had some intensive discussions and are looking at ways and means that they can harmonise schedules “so that we can have regional traffic going into Brazil and coming back out”.
“We already are considered as a hub in terms of flights going to the United Kingdom and North America so indeed if we can now add Brazil to that we think it is another possibility.
“We are blazing a new trail for Barbados’ tourism tonight and it fits right in with Government’s strategy in terms of trying to broaden our source markets and we are going to be looking at other possibilities. We are looking at our air links, greater air connections into Barbados is critically important and we will continue to do that work for the people of Barbados,” he said. (JH)