Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Dr. the Hon. Wykeham McNeill, is reporting US$1.12 billion in gross foreign exchange earnings from tourism for the first six months of the year.
The Minister, who made the disclosure during his Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on July 3,noted that the figure represents a 4.2 per cent increase over the same period in 2011.
He stated that despite the many challenges, the sector continues to flourish. “Though the figures are provisional, this is a clear indication that we are off to an excellent start,” he said.
“We anticipate the upward trend will be maintained as the ‘Jamaica 50’ activities continue, attracting members of the Diaspora coming home to enjoy the Jubilee celebrations, while the London Olympics promotions are expected to boost our visitor arrivals in the future,” he stated.
The Minister said provisional estimates indicate that for the period January to
June, stopover arrivals increased by 3.4 per cent to 1,081,480 and cruise passengers arrivals reflect a phenomenal 39.9 per cent increase at 775,312.
“Together, this means that the total visitor arrivals to Jamaica for the first half of the year have increased by 16 per cent,” he said.
Dr. McNeill said the country performed better than expected in May and June with respect to stopover arrivals, with the numbers increasing by eight and nine per cent, respectively, over the same period last year.
The Minister stated that tourism is the catalyst that will provide the impetus to drive the economy to growth and development.
“We will be leading the charge to strengthen the linkages between tourism and other sectors, encouraging every Jamaican to play their role in improving our tourism product, sustaining investment, and modernizing and diversifying the sector, to foster growth and job creation for our fellow Jamaicans,” he said.
This approach, he said, is critical to Jamaica’s survival and success and will require a collaborative and committed partnership between the public and private sectors.
By Andrea Braham