Jan 23, 2014 News
– Guyanese to benefit from visa waivers
Citizens of both Panama and Guyana will benefit from ninety-days visa waivers as Copa Airline gears up to commence operations here.
The flights will begin operating a Georgetown to Panama route from July 11- every Tuesday and Friday.
Copa’s operations will allow Guyana to be connected to 68 destinations, in 30 countries across the Americas.
An official launching ceremony was held yesterday at the Guyana International Conference Centre located at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara.
As the announcement was being made in Guyana, one was done simultaneously by COPA’s Chief Executive Officer Pedro Heilbron at the airline’s headquarters in Panama.
This was according to Copa’s Sales Manager Guillermo Gomez, who explained to the gathering of Tourism stakeholders that a journey which used to take an entire day can now be lessened to just a few hours, thanks to Copa’s linking destinations.
“As a member of Copa Airlines and speaking on behalf of the entire company, we are very glad that Guyana will become one of our most important achievements in 2014, the 30th country on our network and our 68th destination,” Gomez said.
In brief remarks, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett explained that while Guyana is closely connected to its Caribbean counterparts, it has been somewhat disconnected from the Latin American countries.
However, the Minister believes that while there is the language barrier, the main reason for the disconnection is the issue of transportation.
Rodrigues-Birkett said that the government has been working to bridge this gap, and that the establishment of more embassies like the Mexican and Argentinean is also a part of the plan.
In explaining the genesis of Copa’s operations here, the Foreign Affairs Minister said that after the pulling out of Delta Airlines, she was a passenger of one of Copa’s airplanes, and found the service to be of high quality.
Rodrigues-Birkett indicated that upon reading a magazine about the airline’s expansion, she was impressed and immediately began making arrangements to speak with representatives of Copa and the Foreign Affairs Minister of Panama.
Following some successful discussions, the technical works began to have the airline become operational here in Guyana. This was done within just less than two years ago.
“One of the features of this new partnership will allow Guyanese to travel to Panama without a visa for up to ninety days,” the Minister announced.
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister, Irfaan Ali said that in order to sustain and further build markets in the Americas, it is important for local tourism stakeholders to know Spanish.
He noted that therefore, all frontline tourism staffers, including him, will need to learn the language by the time Copa begins its operations here. “This is a non-negotiable position,” Ali stressed.
He noted too that in another effort to bridge the language gap, a number of major tourism materials will be translated to Spanish. To this end, the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) will also be facilitating trainings in the language.
In addition, Minister Ali said that he is pleased with the fact that the tourism sector has been the one to kick off the year with a major announcement, expressing hope that this will be the country’s leading sector.
The Tourism Minister also hinted that a similar announcement is expected to be made later this year.
Ali told the gathering that since negotiations with Copa were done in confidence, and did not see any hindrances, the same approach will be taken with this new venture.
Copa Airlines and Copa Airlines Colombia are subsidiaries of Copa Holdings, a leading Latin American provider of passengers and cargo services.
With a fleet of 90 aircraft, Copa has been the holder of Skytrax awards for “Best Airline and “Best Cabin and Airport Crew” in Central America and the Caribbean.
Also, the airline is expected to add eight new Boeing Next Generation 737-800 aircraft in 2014, bringing its total fleet to 98 state-of-the-art aircraft, with a seat increase capacity of 14 percent.
As operations commence here, Panamanian airline, a member of Star Alliance, will simultaneously be operating to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Montreal, Canada.
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