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JIS News

The island’s tourist arrival figures are rising sharply, with the first 21 days of May showing a significant increase of 25 per cent over the same period last year.
The increase in arrivals in May is a continuation of the growth momentum from the 2006 winter season, where 15.7 per cent more visitors came to the island over the similar period in 2005.
“As far as the stopovers are concerned, all major markets were showing increases,” said Director of Tourism, Paul Pennicook, outlining that the United States, which was the largest market had shown “a very healthy increase” for the entire winter period.
He told JIS News that for January to April, stopover arrivals increased remarkably with 599,834 visitors to the island compared to 518,547 in 2005. The figures peaked in April, he said, with stopover arrivals reaching 163,272, an increase of 32.1 per cent over the 123,578 visitors recorded last April. He said that the celebration of Easter and carnival during the winter period had impacted tremendously on the growth in the industry and resulted in a “record-breaking April”.
Cruise passenger arrivals also increased during the winter season, with 515,376 visitors coming to the island, which was 8.8 per cent more than the 473,627 visitors recorded for the corresponding period in 2005.
Mr. Pennicook affirmed that the impressive numbers for the first four months of the year was “a direct reflection of the increased inventory on the island,” with 1,200 rooms added.
He noted also, that the increase in air capacity or airlift into the island, had also impacted on the impressive performance, as “a number of new carriers have come in or carriers that have been flying here for a while, have increased their flights.”
Mr. Pennicook made mention of United Airlines, which has introduced five flights per week out of Washington DC, and increased services out of Chicago. Delta Airlines, he continued, had begun services from Cincinnati, Ohio, while Spirit Airlines has two flights out of Fort Lauderdale to Kingston and Montego Bay. Mr. Pennicook also pointed to additional chartered flights from Canada and the United Kingdom.
Turning to trends for the rest of the year, Mr. Pennicook told JIS News that the expectation for the spring and summer periods was for the level of growth, which occurred over the winter period to continue, with “at least double digit increases somewhere between 10 and 15 per cent.”
He noted that bookings for the summer period were very encouraging and people have responded favourably to the cheaper spring/summer rates from April. “We are advised by our major tour operators and partners abroad that the booking trend for the summer period of June, July, August, is also quite strong, so we are very encouraged with what we see happening in May and with what is to come in the summer,” he noted.
He said that one of the major expectations for the cruise shipping industry was the arrival of Freedom of the Seas, “the largest ship afloat”, which would be calling into Montego Bay within another few weeks. He said that vessels had the capacity to carry approximately 4,000 passengers.
In terms of room stock, Mr. Pennicook outlined that by the end of the year, the industry should benefit from an additional 1,050 rooms to its inventory.