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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, says Canada remains an important market for Jamaica as it looks to boost visitor arrivals.

She said despite the economic recession, tourist arrivals from the North American country grew by 60 per cent between 2008 and 2011, and another eight per cent between January and May of this year. She informed that the market grew “from just under 250,000 stopover arrivals in 2008 to nearly 380,000 at the end of last year. ”

The Prime Minister’s remarks were delivered to Canadian travel partners by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. A.J. Nicholson on Wednesday (October 24), at the Rosewater Club in Toronto.

Minister Nicholson was representing the Prime Minister, who had cut short her official visit to Canada to return to Jamaica, because of the threat of Hurricane Sandy.

The Prime Minister attributed the growth in arrivals from Canada to increased airlifts over the last two years and improvements to the product offering.  She thanked the travel partners, including travel agents, tour operators, and travel media personnel, for their continued support to the island.

“It is you, our travel partners, who ought to be praised and commended for continuing to sell and promote Jamaica despite the economic challenges.  Your dedication to our home is truly remarkable and greatly appreciated,” said Mrs. Simpson Miller.

She stated that Jamaicans living in Canada have been crucial to the country’s tourism and pledged that the government “will continue to work closely with this group because we know they are loyal to their home country”.

“I eagerly encourage you, our partners to work closely with this market.  I believe they represent an area for potential growth.  This is particularly true of second and third generation Jamaicans born in Canada, who are excited about visiting Jamaica,” the Prime Minister said. 

She said she is expecting a large contingent of Jamaican Canadians to travel to the island next year for the biennial Jamaican Diaspora Conference.

“Let’s work with our partners as I expect many of them to be coming home from Canada for the conference.  Remember, Jamaicans in the Diaspora do not need an excuse to visit and are always looking for a reason to come home, whether it’s to visit friends and family or for a reunion, wedding, honeymoon or church gathering.  This presents a unique opportunity to grow your existing business, which of course, will benefit Jamaican tourism and by extension the economy of Jamaica,” she stated.

Also in attendance were Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, Her Excellency Sheila Sealy Monteith; Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, Seth George Ramocan and Dr. Lola Ramocan; Director of Bilateral and Regional Affairs Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ricardo Allicock; and Regional Director of the Jamaica Tourist Board, Philip Rose.

Contact:         Carolyn Goulbourne-Warren