There was a 19.9 per cent increase in visitor arrivals for the period January to April, 2012, when compared to the similar period last year.
This was disclosed by Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, who noted that the increase was primarily due to a boom in cruise passenger arrivals, which grew by 55 per cent.
The Minister was addressing journalists at a press briefing, held at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices, on May 3.
Based on provisional arrival figures, the country welcomed a total of 1.34 million visitors, with 739,040 stopover tourists and some 610,358 cruise arrivals. During this period Jamaica recorded a one per cent increase in stopover arrivals.
This compared to 732,748 stopover arrivals and 392,530 cruise passengers for the similar period in 2011. The increase in arrivals saw Jamaica earning an estimated US$814 million, representing a 4.5 per cent increase in expenditure for the similar period last year.
“This is precisely in-keeping with what we had estimated at our press briefing in February,” the Minister said.
He further told journalists that he was pleased that the sector had done so well, especially in light of the fact that “we faced some serious challenges."
He noted that the improved performance was achieved even as Jamaica’s main tourist markets, the United States and Canada, experienced “the warmest winter in decades." This is in addition to the fact that travel out of Europe has been affected by the recent increase in the Air Passenger Duty, and the ongoing recession, especially in countries like Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.
“It must further be noted that in the first full month of this winter season, January 2012, we were down three per cent over the similar period last year. However, since then we have been able to erase that deficit with two per cent growth in each month for February, March and April,” the Minister informed.
He said a main contributor to the growth in arrivals was the Tourism Ministry’s advertising campaign, which was re-launched in late January. There was also the re-opening of Braco, formerly Grand Lido Braco in Trelawny, and DeCameron, formerly Hedonism III, in Runaway Bay, which both added approximately 500 rooms to the inventory.
Dr. McNeill said the significant increase in cruise passenger arrivals for the period was chiefly due to the new Falmouth pier in Trelawny.
“Instead of two, we now have three ports. They are all competing ports and Falmouth brings something special to the equation,” he said.
“What we need to look at now is to improve the infrastructure in the other cruise ship ports, and also expand the attractions that they offer to see how we can continue to have these numbers grow,” the Minister added.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter