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JIS News

The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) has reported that 2005 was a record year for Jamaica’s tourism industry, with impressive performance in stop-over and cruise passenger arrivals, occupancy levels and earnings.
Speaking at a recent press briefing at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Director of Tourism, Paul Pennicook announced that the 4.5 per cent increase in stop-over arrivals and the 3.3 per cent increase in cruise passenger arrivals, have made 2005, “the best year ever for Jamaica’s tourism”.
The Director noted that last year saw 1,478,663 stop-over arrivals to Jamaica, up from 1,414,786 in 2004. He noted that the October to December quarter of 2005 had been extremely strong and impacted significantly on the overall figure, accounting for a 17.9 per cent growth, up from -3.5 per cent and -2.4 per cent in the two previous quarters.
Mr. Pennicook revealed that the cruise shipping industry had 1,136,000 cruise passengers arriving in the island, up from 1,100,000 in 2004 when there was a dip in cruise passenger arrivals due to Hurricane Ivan.
In 2005, the industry experienced the addition of almost 2,000 rooms to its existing stock, including the opening of Sandals Whitehouse, Riu Ocho Rios and the re-opening of Sunset Jamaica Grande.
The Director pointed out that 2006 would see an additional 1,124 rooms coming on stream. This includes the construction of the 700-room Hotel Bahia Principe Jamaica in Runaway Bay, Iberostar Rose Hall, which would have 350 rooms, and Couples Sweptaway adding 74 rooms to its inventory.
Giving details of gross earnings for 2005, Mr. Pennicook outlined that gross visitor expenditure amounted to $1.5 billion. He explained that this steady increase was due primarily to the increase in traffic from Europe, with visitors staying longer than those from North America, and the increase in the number of attractions.
“One of the things that we have been talking about in the master plan for sustainable tourism growth is a further diversification in our source markets,” the Tourism Director said. He further explained that efforts were being made to diversify source markets by, “maintaining growth in our primary markets in United States, North America and Europe, particularly the United Kingdom”.
Mr. Pennicook pointed out that Latin America was another major population centre that would be targeted in 2006.