Great News! New air service will bring Germans to Barbados
According to recent media releases, European travel giant TUI will operate direct charter flights fortnightly from Hamburg, Germany’s second city and the sixth largest in the European Union commencing November 2013. This will give Barbados two routes from the most travelled per capita population in the world, adding northern Germany to the current Frankfurt flight.
The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer estimated that Germans spent US$80.8 billion outside their own country in 2009.
The great circle distance of 4,661 miles will mean a flying time of just over 9 hours and the flights will be operated by a B767-300 of a TUI Dutch affiliate ARKEfly, with 265 seats in two classes. Hamburg is currently the fifth largest airport in Germany, handling nearly 14 million passengers a year, served by 60 airlines to 115 domestic and international destinations.
Justifying the move which includes other destinations in the region, Christian Clemens, CEO of TUI Deutschland Gmbh., stated ‘our choice of Hamburg as a departure airport was very deliberate. We have a unique selling proposition here, because there are, to date, no non-stop long haul flights from Hamburg to the Caribbean or Mexico’.
Recent research by the company revealed that one in four Germans wanted to undertake long-haul travel. Market leader TUI is presently experiencing record 30 per cent booking growth in this segment for winter 2013/14. TUI is already Germany’s largest tour operator, with a market share of around 20 per cent. With excellent rail and S-Bahn links to/from its airport, it will also open up not just Northern Germany but also Southern Denmark – perhaps two of the European countries least negatively affected by the global recession.
From our tourism partners point of view, the 14 night bookings will be a welcome relief from the recent trend towards shorter stays. Also depending on the final day of operation chosen, it could well be a perfect fit for a cruise and stay programme – perhaps appealing especially to the smaller ships like Star Clipper and the SilverSea and Seabourne brands.
Just 150 miles northwest of Hamburg is the island of Sylt, which has become a very popular centre for kite and windsurfing, even attracting the Kite Surf World Cup event in 2012. I really hope that our tourism policymakers bear this in mind and perhaps work towards attracting the organisers to stage the event on Barbados for 2014 or 2015 to support these new flights.
Our worldclass watersports ambassador, Brian Talma, has visited Sylt many times and maybe his proven expertise could be tapped. This minority sport is often overlooked in the scheme of things, but after counting a staggering 47 kites at one time off Silver Sands and Long Beach recently, we have to remember that active enthusiasts usually travel with a partner and family members and are not usually deemed budget travellers.
The Bad News: Air passenger duty increased again
Today, the dreaded APD (air passenger duty) is increased yet again, albeit by a small amount, which makes it all the more amazing that a charter airline has not seized on the opportunity to operate flights to the Eastern Caribbean from Belfast, after Northern Ireland reduced APD to zero from January this year. Even if the flight were shared with Grenada or St. Lucia and passengers were fed in from other British airports like Bristol, Cardiff and Liverpool by low cost carriers.
As a bonus, almost 40 per cent of the entire population of Eire (the Republic of Ireland) live in greater Dublin (1.8 million people) which is only 85 miles away from Belfast International Airport.