Visitors from Canada were greeted with a warm USVI welcome on Christmas Eve when the inaugural Air Canada flight from Toronto touched down in St. Thomas. The sold-out flight was the first of new weekly Air Canada service that will increase visitor arrivals from the Territory’s second largest international market.
Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty and Assistant Commissioner of Tourism Monique Sibilly Hodge met the passengers aboard the inaugural flight, which included Air Canada representative Louise Le Beau, Vice President of Product Development and Revenue Management. In true USVI style, passengers received a taste of Virgin Islands culture upon arrival this afternoon including live steel pan music, greeters dressed in traditional Madras, samples of Cruzan Rum and welcome bags.
With a dedicated presence in Canada for over two years, the Department of Tourism has implemented marketing initiatives designed to grow awareness and interest in travel to the Territory, including travel agent outreach, industry trade shows and media relations efforts. Based on the Department’s research, the Canadian market continues to demonstrate strong demand, despite the recent economic recession.
“We are extremely thrilled to welcome the passengers on this first Air Canada flight to St. Thomas. We also look forward to showcasing the destination to the 2,000 inbound passengers expected to visit during the winter months, as result of this new service,” said Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty. “Annually, we receive approximately 7,000 visitors from Canada and with this new airlift we anticipate growth of at least 20 per cent from the Territory’s second largest international market.”
The flight, AC1796, departed Toronto’s Pearson International (YYZ) at 9:45 a.m. and arrived at Cyril E. King airport (STT) at 3:54 p.m. Returning flights depart St. Thomas at 4:15 p.m. and arrive in Toronto at 9:25 p.m. This added airlift will offer Canadians non-stop service once every Saturday between Toronto and St. Thomas, through April 14, 2012. The flights are serviced by Air Canada’s Airbus 319-100 aircraft featuring a new cabin interior, 14 executive seats and 106 economy seats.
In anticipation of the new service, and to increase awareness and bookings to the Territory in time for holiday and winter travel, the Department of Tourism activated a series of activities and events across Canada this fall, targeting travel agents, meeting planners, media and consumers.