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Tour operator will offer Caribbean to Cleveland travelers

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Tour operator will offer Caribbean to Cleveland travelers

Unread post by bimjim » Mon Dec 05, 2016

http://www.crainscleveland.com/article/ ... /161209893

Vacation tour operator will offer Caribbean destinations to Cleveland travelers
Jay Miller
December 05, 2016

They're not international travel destinations the Northeast Ohio business community has been hoping for, but at a news conference at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport on Monday, Dec. 4, Vacation Express, an Atlanta vacation charter company, announced it will test Cleveland Hopkins International Airport next year with new flights to the Caribbean.

The 26-year-old tour operator will operate a handful of all-included getaways that include direct air service from Cleveland Hopkins as part of six-night vacations to Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic and the Grand Bahamas Island, and four-night retreats to Jamaica, beginning in May.

This is the travel firm's second go-round at Hopkins. In 2015, it offered flights to Punta Cana and Cancun, Mexico. It has been more than a decade since Cleveland travelers could fly directly to the airports in Freeport, Bahamas or Montego Bay, Jamaica.

"We're very, very excited about being able to offer travelers in Cleveland and the surrounding area these new, nonstop destinations," said Pamela Caltabiano, Vacation Express's public relations and social media manager. "It's been a decade since you've had nonstop service to those two destinations."

The success of the trial will be used to evaluate future service.

The subsidiary of Toronto-based Sunwing Travel Group Inc. will offer six Monday departures to Punta Cana, beginning May 15, with Friday return flights. Saturday departures to Montego Bay will begin May 27 and run through July1, with Friday return flights. The airline has scheduled seven flights to and from Freeport, scattered through five weeks beginning July 3 and ending Aug. 2.

Starting prices for the vacation packages range from $589 per person for four nights in Montego Bay to $899 for six nights in Freeport.

Sunwing Airlines, a corporate sibling, will provide the air service on Boeing 737s.

Hopkins officials have been trying to attract air service to one or more European capitals since Continental Airlines discontinued service to London in 2009.

Fred Szabo, interim director of the Cleveland Department of Port Control, which manages Cleveland Hopkins, said the airport is aggressively pursuing international service and is negotiating with a number of air carriers, whom he declined to identify.

"I can't let too much out of the bag, but I can tell you we're very aggressive and we're hopeful that we're going to land international service, the right international service," he told Crain's. "The business community is looking for a certain kind of service, and that's what we're looking for."

Frankfurt, Germany, has been particularly attractive, partly because of the large number of German firms with Northeast Ohio operations.

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