Feature
Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (left), turns on the new showers at the Marking Stone Beach in St. Mary, which was renovated at a cost of $38 million. Looking on are South East St. Mary Member of Parliament, Dr. Norman Dunn (centre); and Tourism Enhancement Fund Executive Director, Dr. Carey Wallace.
Photo: Rudranath Fraser

Story Highlights

  • It was another record-breaking year for tourism in 2018.
  • Visitor Arrivals and Earnings • Arrival figures indicate that the island welcomed just over 4.3 million visitors, a 5.3 per cent increase over the 4,300,241 tourists who came in 2017. • The industry generated gross earnings of some US$3.3 billion, a nine per cent increase over the 2017 figure of US$3 billion.
  • Increased Airline Seats • An additional 99,455 airline seats were negotiated for the 2018/19 winter tourist season, comprising expanded traditional seats and a build-out of new ones. • These include 38,000 out of the United States of America (USA), 42,000 out of Canada, 12,000 from Continental Europe, and 7,455 out of the United Kingdom and Northern Europe.

It was another record-breaking year for tourism in 2018.

Visitor Arrivals and Earnings
• Arrival figures indicate that the island welcomed just over 4.3 million visitors, a 5.3 per cent increase over the 4,300,241 tourists who came in 2017.
• The industry generated gross earnings of some US$3.3 billion, a nine per cent increase over the 2017 figure of US$3 billion.

Increased Airline Seats
• An additional 99,455 airline seats were negotiated for the 2018/19 winter tourist season, comprising expanded traditional seats and a build-out of new ones.
• These include 38,000 out of the United States of America (USA), 42,000 out of Canada, 12,000 from Continental Europe, and 7,455 out of the United Kingdom and Northern Europe.

New/Expanded Flights
Expansion in number of seats resulted, in part, from several new flights to Jamaica. These included:

• Eurowings, Pegas Fly and Nordwind out of Eastern Europe; Canadian airlines – WestJet, Swoop and Sunwing, and US-based Frontier Airlines.

• Additionally, Copa Airlines increased its flights to daily service from Panama City, while the Latam Airlines Group announced non-stop direct flights from Peru, beginning in July 2019.

Cruise Ship Arrivals
Jamaica’s ports received inaugural calls from the following cruise lines: Murella Cruise, Carnival Horizon, and MS Sirena.

Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, interacts with passengers arriving on the Carnival Horizon. 

Visa Waiver
• Jamaica and Russia signed a reciprocal agreement, waiving visa requirements for nationals entering both countries. The agreement allows Jamaicans and Russians to spend up to 90 days per year for tourism, cultural exchange or business.

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
• Jamaica and Mexico signed a MoU, formalising a multi-destination marketing arrangement to create ease of travel between both countries and increase visitor arrivals.

Tourism Resilience Summit
• The Government hosted the inaugural Tourism Resilience Summit of the Americas, which featured local, regional and global stakeholder discussions on wide-ranging disruptive industry challenges, including climate change and cybercrime.

Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre
• The first Board of Governors meeting for the Centre, which had a soft launch, took place in London.

Tourism Working Group
• This group, led by PricewaterhouseCoopers partner, Wilfred Baghaloo, was established to review a range of issues within the sector, related to entertainment, ground transportation, and work permits.

Jamaica Centre for Tourism Innovation (JCTI)

• The Ministry provided $100 million, in a collaborative effort with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, to launch the Hospitality and Tourism Management Programme in high schools.

• This is the first certification programme for students to gain tourism entry-level qualification. It was rolled out in 32 institutions to 650 students islandwide.

• Additionally, about 450 tourism workers and 65 tutors graduated from the JCTI’s training programme.

More Rooms, Upgraded Attractions

Hotel Rooms
• Sagicor Group and Playa Hotels and Resorts inked a US$200 million deal to construct 760 additional rooms over the next three years.

• Phase one of the US$110 million Excellence Oyster Bay Resort in Trelawny was opened with 31 rooms.

• Half Moon Hotel added 57 rooms, new restaurants and a great house, among other amenities, at its property at a cost of US$75 million.

• The 120-room Spanish Court Hotel in Montego Bay, and the 48-room R Hotel in Kingston are now complete.

Beach Development
Over $143 million has, to date, been spent on beach upgrades. These include:
• Marking Stone Beach, St. Mary – $38.3 million
• Lyssons Beach, St. Thomas – $49.6 million
• Boston, Portland – $27.8 million
• Burwood, Trelawny – $28 million
• Ground was also broken to upgrade Salem Beach in St. Ann at a cost of
approximately $26 million

Hampden Wharf Development
• Ground was broken for a US$5.7 million project in Falmouth, which is the first of five artisan villages being developed islandwide with TEF funding.

Tourism Enhancement
Fund (TEF)
• The TEF was restructured to operate as Jamaica’s Centre of Tourism Inno-vation. It will focus on facilitating innovative projects and developing iconic attractions islandwide.

Tourism Linkages Network
• The Ministry continued to strengthen links with other sectors, most notably agriculture, resulting in the inaugural Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival that featured samplings of coffee in various forms.

World Tourism Awards World’s Leading:
• Beach Destination, and Cruise Destination – Jamaica
• Luxury Hotel Villa – Fleming Villa at GoldenEye
• Villa Resort – Round Hill Hotel and Villas
• All-Inclusive Company – Sandals Resorts International
• Family Resort Brand – Beaches Resorts
• Caribbean Attraction Company – Island Routes Caribbean Adventures
• Adventure Tour Operator; and the Pacific Area Travel Writers Association (PATWA) 2017 International Travel Award for Best Destination for Adventure Tourism – Chukka Caribbean Adventures.

Minister Bartlett received:
• The International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) Champions in Challenge Award in London. The award honours industry stakeholders who display exceptional leadership in making a difference to the sector.
• Caribbean Journal’s 2017 Caribbean Tourism Minister of the Year
• PATWA’s Worldwide Tourism Minister of the Year.

Industry Awards
• The inaugural Golden Tourism Day Award was presented to 56 industry professionals rendering service ranging from 50 to 67 years, for a combined 3,025 years.