Business

Knutsford officially opens airport hub in MoBay

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

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Luxury bus service Knutsford Express yesterday officially opened its Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay depot in St James, dubbed 'City2 City in comfort and style', in a bid to facilitate a seamless connection with arriving and departing passengers.

Oliver Townsend, the company's chief executive officer, expressed his appreciation that local and international commuters enjoy the service his company offers.

“We are pleased that, in our 11th year of business, residents, visitors and members of the Diaspora alike continue to appreciate the high standards that our scheduled luxury coach service provides,” Townsend said.

“Knutsford is a company that prides itself on comfort, safety and reliability.”

He also argued that the tourism industry stands to benefit tremendously from the airport depot, adding that “we expect the players in our smaller resort towns to capitalise on the affordability, frequency, safety, and comfort that our service offers, thereby allowing them to significantly increase their business”.

“We now have a situation where returning Jamaicans and tourists will be able to connect with our scheduled service across the island directly from the airport,” Townsend added.

“We believe that the terminal is going to expand the market based on the feedback we get from overseas companies who are in the business of developing travel plans or sending relatives to Jamaica. This will mean a lot to them.”

Meanwhile, guest speaker at yesterday's official opening, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, congratulated the Townsend family for providing high quality service for over a decade.

The tourism minister noted that there is “a different type of demand for experiences into our space”, which accounted for Airbnb booking 20,000 additional visitors to the destination last year.

“These visitors are not necessarily staying in hotels, they are more likely to book into Airbnb. And just to let you know that in 2017 here in Jamaica, 55,000 persons came to Jamaica because of Airbnb, up from 35,000 in 2016,” the tourism minister noted.

He concluded that the “link between Airbnb and Knutsford is a natural” as transportation is going to play a key role in enabling this new demographic.

In the meantime, Knutsford's move to open the facility, which will generate employment, is also geared at creating a multimodal environment in the form of a transit hub that international travellers have become accustomed to in major destinations.

Additionally, Townsend argued that the growth of Montego Bay is accompanied by added traffic congestion, particularly between the Sangster International Airport and downtown Montego Bay where the company's Pier One depot is located.

“With the traffic congestion between the airport and downtown Montego Bay, commuters had to spend an unreasonable amount of time in traffic to get to us and then they end up passing the airport again, which doesn't make any sense — certainly not a very efficient way in which to operate,” he argued.

“With that in mind, we had to accelerate our efforts in improving the comfort, convenience, cost, and efficiency of our service to our valued customers and passengers.”

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