Monday 22 October, 2018

Bartlett to invite Thai boys on all-expense paid trip to Jamaica

Jamaica's Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.

Jamaica's Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.

Jamaica will be extending a formal invitation of an all-expense paid vacation for two weeks, to the 12 Thai boys and their football coach who were rescued after being trapped in a water-filled cave for more than two weeks in a scenario that captivated the entire world.

The rescue operation that eventually extracted them was so dangerous that a Thai navy seal involved in the operation lost his life when he ran out of oxygen in the water-filled cave. There are already talks that their experience will be made into a movie.

Now Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett wants to give the 13 a well-deserved vacation following their ordeal.

“The [Jamaica] Tourist Board and the Ministry of Tourism, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will send a diplomatic note to the people of Thailand, firstly to commiserate on the difficulty of the youngsters, but also to commend the work that has been done to rescue those 12 youngsters and their coach who were trapped in the cave in Thailand,” Bartlett said.

“And so we are also asking our honorary consul in Thailand to, on our behalf, extend the invitation to the 12 young men to visit Jamaica,” he said.

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The 12 boys aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach spent 18 days stranded in the Tham Luang cave which they went to explore after football practice.

However, heavy rains soon flooded the cave forcing them to retreat further inside.

After 18 days they were found deep inside the dark cave on a narrow, wet ledge where they took up refuge after. They were eventually rescued from the flooded cave by a team of Thai navy seals and international divers over three days, from July 8 to 10.

They were discharged from hospital on Wednesday after recuperating for a week from their ordeal inside the cave with no food and only rainwater to drink.

Bartlett made the announcement of the invitation on Wednesday while speaking at a welcome reception for Eurowings which will offer direct flights from Germany into Montego Bay and the return of Copa Airline flight from Panama into Montego Bay.

“And because we spoke about that connectivity from south-east Asia, we may very well be able to partner with Eurowings, who knows, and that medium [can] fly them here to Montego Bay,” Bartlett said.

Eurowings made its inaugural weekly scheduled flights between the major German city of Munich and Montego Bay on Wednesday afternoon, while, Copa Airlines increased to daily flights between Panama City and Montego Bay.

Ministry of Tourism officials, several airline executives and crew staff were on hand for the official engagements.

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