Jamaica is set to become the favorite destination of Nigerian tourists following the launch of a direct flight from the West African nation to the Caribbean country last Monday. The establishment of a direct flight between the countries is expected to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries, particularly in tourism.
Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, who was on board the inaugural flight to Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay, said Nigerians are well known for their traveling culture adding that “we believe that Jamaica is the next big thing for us as far as tourism is concerned.”
“We’re huge in tourism and travel. We just feel this is a gold mine, a gem waiting to be discovered by the majority of Nigerians and I think once Nigerians discover this you will see us in droves,” he said, according to eturbonews.
Nigeria and Jamaica established diplomatic relations some 40 years ago. Nonetheless, the two countries have over 400 years of shared history as some enslaved men and women from Nigeria eventually found themselves in the Caribbean nation.
”The context of this flight is significant as both countries are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations this year,” Jamaica’s Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson Smith said. “The fact that we have been able to make the flight happen against the backdrop of the major global challenges that defined 2020, make it that much more significant,” she added.
The launch of the direct flights between the two countries comes at a time when wealthy businessmen in Africa are buying citizenships in Caribbean nations to avoid strict visa regulations.
Many African countries rank low on the Henley & Partners Passport Index, which ranks the world’s passports according to the countries their holders can visit without a prior visa. The low rankings of many African nations mean that they can visit fewer countries now than they could in previous years without a visa.
The effect of this is, it hinders their chances of traveling across Europe and America as well as the opportunity to access international education in European and American institutions for their wards.
As such, many African elites are finding ways to ease business travel, get elite education for their wards in Western countries and a second home for holidays. The Caribbean island of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica Republic and Malta have emerged as some of the favorite countries for these elites.
For instance, St. Lucia has issued 60 passports to Nigerians under its Citizenship Investment Program (CIP). The program grants resident permit or citizenship to foreigners for a fee.