The Cayman Islands Tourism Association has welcomed news that Cayman Airways is scheduled to begin flights to Panama City, Panama.
Jane van der Bol, executive director of the association, said the hope is to tap into an affluent Brazilian market, which is active in travelling and shopping during the summer.
“Brazilians face some of the world’s highest prices at home because of heavy import taxes, so it’s little surprise that frenzied shopping is the norm when they head abroad. The country’s growing middle class is eager to – and can afford to – travel overseas for leisure, and each year more than six million do so,” she said.
“Brazilians like to travel first or business class and they are used to a high quality of service in shopping centres, hotels and restaurants. In the United States, and in Florida in particular, Brazilians have long been loyal customers.”
Copa Airlines connects to Panama City through five different Brazilian destinations, she said. These are Brasilia, Manaus, Porto Allegre, Renife and Sao Paolo.
Busloads of travellers
At the Aventura Mall, north of Miami, Ms van der Bol said, busloads of Brazilian travellers arrive every day, spending on average four times more than American consumers.
Jose-Antonio Valencia, president of the Portuguese-language Florida Review magazine, said there is a new Brazilian middle class, which is new to travelling but up to date on fashion trends.
“They love to get that purse or piece of clothing that would be three or four times as expensive back home,” he said.
The first flights between Cayman and Panama take place during the Easter weekend, departing on Thursday, 5 April and returning on Monday, 9 April.
Regular service begins on Thursdays and Mondays from Thursday, 31 May, departing Grand Cayman at 11am and arriving into Panama City at 1pm. Flights depart Panama at 2pm, arriving at Grand Cayman at 4pm.