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If all goes well Barbadian tourism officials could be rolling out the welcoming carpet to a new group of visitors.

Barbados TODAY has been informed that pending the approval of United States air transportation regulators, American carrier JetBlue will indirectly open up a new source of visitors to the island – this time from the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.

It is being pursued via a special code share agreement JetBlue has with Emirate airline, which it is now seeking to extend to Barbados, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

Tourism sources said last month JetBlue, which has been plying the New York to Barbados route since October 2009, officially notified American air transport officials they wanted to include Barbados and the two other destinations in the code share arrangement.

This would be done through a statement of authorisation, it was pointed out.

In April this year JetBlue received similar permission to place Emirates’ designator code on its flights between within the US and between that country and the UAE.

Now, in an eight page application dated September 5, this, the American airline stated:

“JetBlue and EK wish to expand their code share relationship by adding additional flights to third countries not covered under Open Skies Agreements with the United States. Specifically, JetBlue wishes to display EK’s designator on its flights to Barbados, Dominican Republic and Mexico.

“JetBlue therefore respectfully requests that the Department issue an expanded Blanket Statement of Authorisation…to permit JetBlue to display EK’s designator code in conjunction with foreign air transportation of persons, property and mail.”

This was in relation to “routings involving the United States and the United Arab Emirates on JetBlue’s flights between any points in the United States, between any point or points in the United States and any point or points in third countries that have Open Skies Agreements with the United States, between any point or points in the United States and any point or points in Barbados and the Dominican Republic, and between New York John F. Kennedy International Airport and Cancun, Mexico.

JetBlue said it wanted to initiate the code share plan in relation to Barbados and the other places by January 1, 2013.

A local tourism official told Barbados TODAY the opening up of any new source market was always good, although he pointed out that international long haul destinations sections of the UAE including Dubai were in fact Barbados’ competitors.

If the code share partnership does in fact result in arab tourists traveling to Barbados via the United States it would be a fillip for the tourism industry, which has had a mixed performance over the past four years, including a declining in visitor spending.

President of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association Patricia Affonso-Dass recently voiced concern about the performance of the sector, pointing to projections of a nine per cent decline over the 2011 performance.

One of the worrying factors was the 17.9 per cent decrease in visitor arrivals from the main United Kingdom market last month.

“Over the past year, we have seen continued closures in hotels and other tourism businesses,” she also noted. (SC)

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