JIS News

Between January and March of this year, stopover arrivals from Canada increased from 17,675 to 24,991 reflecting an increase of 41.5 per cent over the corresponding period for 2006.
This according to Director of Tourism, Basil Smith is a result of the efforts of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) to diversify the sector and lessen the dependency on the United States market. Mr. Smith, who was speaking at the Rotary Club of Kingston’s weekly luncheon held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel yesterday (July 5), informed that “all together from January to March, the Canadian market grew by 32.8 per cent”.
“The evidence shows that it is important for us to diversify and not be so heavily dependent on the United States market. Diversification has been a strategy pursued by the JTB in recent years and we are reaping some success,” the Director of Tourism stated.
He also added that the positive endorsements received from Canadian travel agents have placed Jamaica in a favourable light and “these agents are more inclined to sell vacation packages to the island”.
In addition, Mr. Smith informed that Canadian carrier WestJet Airlines will begin scheduled service to Jamaica from Toronto, Canada as of December 10. “The Toronto to Montego Bay non-stop service is to begin in time for the winter season. The airline will operate flights to the island three times during the week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays,” Mr. Smith said.
He added that additional air seats are scheduled to come on stream in time for the winter tourist season.In the meantime, Mr. Smith said that Jamaica has experienced significant increases in arrivals from Europe, particularly Spain.
Stop over arrivals from the continent increased by 15.7 per cent for the January to March 2007 period and arrivals from the United Kingdom grew by 18.2 per cent during the same three-month period.
Mr. Smith also noted that with the termination of the CARICOM visa regime on May 15, “we expect to regain some grounds lost in the European market.”
“More charter flights are coming in from Europe. These have been growing steadily, with about 40 per cent of European visitors coming to Jamaica on chartered flights during the January to March 2007 period. We will be continuing our efforts to increase airlifts out of Europe,” Mr. Smith said.
He added that “we are currently in discussions with tour operators in Germany, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Switzerland to provide more chartered seats to Jamaica. We are also making efforts to improve scheduled service to Montego Bay.”
Regarding the United States, Mr. Smith noted that arrivals had declined, with the January to March figures showing a 12.5 per cent reduction over the corresponding period last year.
“Over all stopover arrivals declined by 2.1 per cent for January to March and preliminary overall figures for January to May reflect a decline by 3.3 per cent,” Mr. Smith said.
He said that the decline in stop over arrivals from the United States was as a result of a combination of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative rule and the CARICOM visa regime for ICC Cricket World Cup 2007.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) affects the ease with which many Americans are able to travel to overseas destinations. Previously, US citizens were able to travel without a passport. Since January 23 however, all persons entering the US by air must have a passport.
However the US Government has given a reprieve with the relaxing of the WHTI rule until September 30. As such persons wishing to travel without a passport must show proof of application for the document.

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