JIS News

The arrival of a full Air Jamaica flight from Los Angeles, in the United States, at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St. James, today (December 15), marked the official start of the 2008/09 Winter Tourist Season.
On hand to greet the visitors on board the plane were Tourism Officials, including Minister Edmund Bartlett.
Mr. Bartlett described the full flight as a good start for the season, adding that from all indications, the other flights coming in today would carry a reasonable load.
“The month of December has started very well, so far. In the first week, we had a 14.9 per cent increase in visitor arrivals over last year, and we are waiting for the numbers now for the second week. As you go into Christmas, of course, the numbers will get better,” the Minister said.
“The rest of the season, we are expecting to fight, because this is a fighting period and we are not the type of people who are going to sit down and cry, and talk about how bad the season is going to be. Our job is to make the season the best we can get under the circumstances, and we know we have the infrastructure in place,” he emphasised.
Mr. Bartlett said that reservation bookings are coming in, although not as fast as one would have anticipated. He blamed the slow pace of reservation bookings on a change in the booking culture, as persons are no longer booking reservations far in advance. They are doing more impulse buying, to capitalise on good pricing and availability of air seats at affordable rates, Mr. Bartlett added.
“We are comfortable that the season is going to present the expected returns that we are looking forward to this year. We are not expecting a bumper season, but we are expecting a reasonable season, under the circumstances,” the Minister said.
Two retirees, Bruce and Norma Yarbrough from California, were the first two tourists to disembark from the airline for the start season, and were rewarded with a fully paid return trip to the island, courtesy of Air Jamaica.
The couple, who will be staying in Jamaica for a week, said they are on their maiden long term stay to any island in the Caribbean, pointing out that they have only visited the region on a cruise ship in the past.

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