JIS News

Preliminary figures for the 2008 winter tourist season have indicated an 8.4 per cent increase in stopover arrivals over the similar period last year.
For the January to March period, stopover arrivals were 483,959, up from 427,252 in 2007.
Speaking with JIS News, Director of Tourism, Basil Smith noted that the figures are looking impressive so far and is anticipating a double digit increase in arrivals when calculations are completed.
“February was the most outstanding month when stopover arrivals shot up by 17 per cent,” the Director revealed, adding that the overall performance of the sector was due to “a sustained marketing effort on the part of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).”
He noted that the sector is marketed through advertising on cable, network television and the internet.
“We have been very active on the internet for sometime now. We do search engine advertising, which occurs when internet users type certain words like tropical, vacation or holiday and Jamaica pops up at the top of the list,” he explained.
He added that this medium is used to place Jamaica in the minds of consumers when they are shopping around for travel.
Giving details on individual market performances, Mr. Smith pointed out that the Unites States of American (USA) continued to dominate the stopover arrivals with some 300,609 visitors. Canada and Europe followed with 92,671 and 68,599 visitors, respectively.
Increases in room stock and airlift were also contributing factors to the arrivals. The Director pointed out that there are new carriers flying into Jamaica or carriers that have been flying here for a while, have increased their flights.
“As far as airlift is concerned, the growing number of rooms that we have, demand that we keep in tandem with the supply of air seats.making sure that it is enough to satisfy the demand for travel to Jamaica,” Mr. Smith said.
He cited Spain as a growing market due to “the marketing being done there to satisfy the need for ‘bodies-in-beds’ in the Spanish-invested hotels here.”
Turning to trends for the rest of the year, the Tourism Director told JIS News that the expectation is for the level of growth to continue into the spring and summer periods with double digit figures.
In terms of room stock, Mr. Smith outlined that by the end of the year, the industry should benefit from an additional 3,000 rooms bringing the count up to approximately 30,000.
“Jamaica can be proud of its performance. It is a result of combined efforts of the workers in the industry, investors, hoteliers and airlines. We distinguish ourselves as a quality destination and if we continue along this path, tourism will make a major contribution to solving many of the development challenges that we have as a nation,” the Director asserted.

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