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VC | Nov 3, 2020

Virgin Atlantic primes Europeans for direct flights to ‘untouched’ St Vincent next summer

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley / Our Today

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Before the first flight takes off, Virgin Atlantic has already raised eyebrows in St Vincent and the Grenadines. (Photo: Condé Nast Traveler)

British airline carrier Virgin Atlantic is adding St Vincent and the Grenadines as its next Caribbean destination, with twice-weekly flights from Europe, come summer 2021.

The company, in a statement on Tuesday (November 3), said that St Vincent is the ‘perfect Caribbean getaway’, claiming that the idyllic archipelago is untouched and awash with deserted beaches.

“The new service aims to capture the fast-growing demand to visit and reconnect with family and loved ones as well as sunseekers looking to explore an untouched corner of the Caribbean. With deserted white sand beaches, St Vincent offers the quintessential Caribbean getaway,” Virgin Atlantic said.

More the better for the Europeans, according to Virgin, as they would also enjoy a short quarantine period before being welcomed in open arms.

“Plus, with rigorous Covid-19 protocols and testing, and short quarantine, the islands are open for tourists and ready to welcome you,” Virgin wrote in an Instagram post.

A screenshot of Virgin Atlantic’s Instagram feed, on its upcoming services to St Vincent and the Grenadines. (Photo: Instagram @VirginAtlantic)

The company’s tone quickly triggered fierce backlash by Vincentians, who slammed the popular airline for all but erasing them from their sales pitch.

In the eyes of the locals, Virgin Atlantic’s announcement borders on thinly-veiled neo-colonialism under the guise of tourism, and Vincentians across social media platforms are airing their grouse with the statement.

What’s more, St Vincent nationals felt the statement was irresponsible, and could have dire consequences for the main island, which continues to battle against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Excuse me, but there is no part of @stvincentandthegrenadines that is ‘untouched’. There shouldn’t be short quarantine either. Don’t have the Europeans come to our land and infect our natives with COVID-19 or anything else. This country is inhabited by people and you will respect that. Period,” one man commented under Virgin Atlantic’s Instagram post.

St Vincent’s capital, Kingstown, is looking mighty ‘untouched’ lately. (Photo: US State Department)

“Short quarantine for European travellers putting natives at risk to one of the deadliest viruses in modern times?? This is not a good look @virginatlantic,” another woman added.

In its statement, Virgin Atlantic indicated that its service to St Vincent would commence in June 2021, with tickets going up for sale as at Tuesday, November 24.

The inaugural flight to St Vincent leaves London’s Heathrow Airport destined for the sun-kissed Caribbean isle.

The company currently operates in four Caribbean markets, Antigua, Grenada, Jamaica and Barbados—with plans to resume services in Tobago in the coming months, according to Chief Commercial Officer Juha Jarvinen.

In his remarks, Jarvinen said the Caribbean presents an excellent opportunity for Virgin Atlantic.

“St Vincent and the Grenadines as well as the Caribbean region as a whole, represent an extremely exciting opportunity for us. With many islands implementing rigorous Covid-19 protocols including testing before arrival and a short quarantine period for visitors, the islands are open for tourism and are a haven for travellers in search of sun,” he said.

Petit Tabac is one of the more popular of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ remote little islands. The island, a part of the Tobago Cays, boasts a coral reef and is accessible only by boat. (Photo: Christian Lendl)

CEO of St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority, Glen Beache, said the country was thrilled to welcome Virgin airlines.

“It is only fitting that the most diverse destination in the Caribbean works with one of the best airlines in Europe,” Beache began.

“This partnership will not only change [how] potential visitors look at us, but it will also play a big role in the number of times the diaspora visit their home yearly. The arrival of Virgin Atlantic will have a positive and lasting effect on the product that is St Vincent and the Grenadines,” he added.

Virgin Atlantic further stated that its twice-weekly service will operate on the airline’s A330-300 aircraft boasting 31 Upper Class, 48 Premium and 185 Economy Delight, Classic and Light seats.

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