Further expanding its already comprehensive service to the Caribbean, American Airlines will be launching the first-ever international flight route between the United States and Ocho Rios, in Jamaica.
The resort town, which has risen to prominence in recent years, rivals Montego Bay and Negril as one of the most popular tourist hotspots on the island.
Up until this year, there were no commercial flights available between North America and Ocho Rios. This meant visitors had to fly to other major hubs instead, such as Montego Bay or Kingston, and then transfer to Ocho Rios via land, which can take up to 2 hours.
From 2022 onwards, reaching Ocho Rios’ pristine coastline from America will be much easier.
First International Flights Between The U.S. And Ocho Rios To Launch This November
Although a much smaller airport, Ian Fleming International will host the first Ocho Rios-bound flights from the United States. Located roughly 10 miles away from Ocho Rios, the airport will offer American visitors the opportunity to arrive directly at this destination, as opposed to landing elsewhere in Jamaica.
The exciting news was shared on March 31 by both American Airlines representatives and Jamaican Government officials. They both confirmed the launch of two weekly, non-stop services from Miami to Ocho Rios, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, on an Envoy E-175 aircraft with a seating capacity of between 76 and 88 passengers (including business and economy seats).
As Jamaican officials described, American Airlines is the ‘largest mover of people in and out of Jamaica‘, with the move originating from a recent meeting between senior American executives, and government and private sector representatives in Montego Bay. Among participants, Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, was one of those present.
As Bartlett said during his Observer interview, ‘this is a very valuable addition to the aviation needs of Jamaica, with non-stop service between the United States and our country’s third international airport’. Now, there will be direct flights available from the U.S. to all three major destinations in Jamaica: Kingston, Montego Bay, and Ocho Rios.
According to Bartlett, the new service will ‘encourage other airlines to fly into the Oracabessa/Ocho Rios area’, while assisting ‘greatly’ in promoting tourism for less explored destinations, such as St. Mary and Portland parishes.
Ocho Rios itself will also benefit from the larger influx of tourists and more foreign investment.
Is Covid Still A Major Concern For Travelers To Jamaica?
Recently, the U.S. lowered its travel advice against Jamaica from Level 4 to Level 3, with Americans no longer being urged not to travel to the island. Instead, they are advised to ‘reconsider travel’ due to higher Covid levels. Jamaica itself is reporting an average of 21 new infections daily, or only 1% of the previous peak.
On March 1, the country removed its travel authorization form and further relaxed once-strict travel rules. In spite of that, for now, Americans are still required to present a negative Covid test result within 72 hours of arriving in Jamaica, regardless of vaccination status. Both PCR and rapid antigen tests are accepted as proof of entry.
Additionally, those unvaccinated may face harsher restrictions when leaving a ‘resilient corridor’. Jamaica’s resilient corridors are government-designated tourist zones in the country where quarantine mandates usually do not apply to unvaccinated tourists. When fully immunized, Americans are free to leave and enter these zones as they wish.
As stated on the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica’s official webpage, medical services in Jamaica are ‘extremely limited’. For that reason, we would like to remind our readers to purchase travel insurance covering Covid treatment costs and isolation prior to visiting the island.
When insured, travelers are usually better equipped when faced with adverse events, such as testing positive and/or needing treatment, especially in places like Jamaica where hospitals might have fewer professionals available and lower capacity.
Elsewhere in the Caribbean, other island-nations such as Grenada and Aruba have removed all Covid regulation at their outer borders. As more and more countries in the region reopen fully and airlines ramp up services, vacationers should monitor Jamaican news closely for updates concerning international travelers and Covid measures.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories