JIS News

Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, is reporting growth in the sector since the start of the winter tourism season on December 15, 2008, despite the economic challenges facing the world.
Speaking at a media briefing on Thurday March 19, at the Ministry, in New Kingston, the Minister pointed out that up to March 15, the country has welcomed 464,589 stop over visitors, compared to 453,533 for the similar period last year.
“We are now on track to having the best winter tourist season in the history of Jamaica, in terms of stop over arrivals,” Mr. Bartlett said, adding that Jamaica is one of four countries in the world that are showing growth in arrivals at this time.
He noted that the first half of March realised a 12.2 per cent increase over the similar period last year, and is optimistic that the growth momentum would continue for the rest of the season and beyond.
Mr. Bartlett accredited the growth in the sector to the aggressive advertising campaign that has been undertaken, backed by the stimulus package, which was awarded to the sector at the beginning of the winter tourist season.
The stimulus package, he noted, “played a significant role in stabilising the industry and providing us with the cash flow support that was needed to see us through the first period of the winter season.”
Mr. Bartlett said that the sector’s performance has not gone unnoticed as he recently received the International Council of Pacific Area Travel Writers Association (PATWA) Hall of Fame Lifetime Contribution in Tourism Award.
“The award was stimulated primarily through the performance of the Jamaican tourism during this period of downturn globally. This gave me some level of pride as Destination Jamaica was sought after to give our best practices and to say to the rest of the global community, how we have been able to buck the trend to have growth, when everybody else is not and when the global tourism landscape is in turmoil,” the Minister said.
Moving forward, Mr. Bartlett pointed out that continued arrangements are being made to increase airlift security out of existing and emerging markets.
Airlift arrangements are being made with Europe for the summer period as well as Brazil, Mexico, Columbia, Venezuela, Argentina and Chile.
In terms of other developments for the sector, the Minister announced that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is to be signed soon with the Minister of Tourism for Turkey, for technical co-operation in the area of health tourism.
“Jamaica is seen as a very good investment destination and this performance that we are experiencing in the marketplace now is doing marvellously for us. It is inviting more people to come and look, because if we can weather the storm during this time, then when it turns, we are likely to take-off and people want to be there to take-off with us,” Mr. Bartlett said.

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