Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, says Jamaica has, to date, recorded some US$1.7 billion in earnings from tourism for 2012.
Addressing a thanksgiving service at the St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Falmouth, Trelawny, on Sunday (December 9) to mark the commencement of Tourism Awareness Week 2012,being observed between, December 9 and 15, Dr. McNeill, said the earnings, thus far, for this year, represents a 3.2 per cent over US$1.6 billion generated for the same period in 2011.
The Minister said stopover visitor arrivals also grew this year, increasing by 2.4 per cent between January and October, over the same period in 2011, to stand at 1.7 million,
Dr. McNeill pointed out that these figures are evidence of the significant strides that Jamaica has made in efforts to tap into new markets, and expressed optimism that the country is poised for record arrivals next year, consequent on these.
“We anticipate 2013 to be a ground-breaking year for Jamaica, and we will continue to tap new markets for opportunities, while boosting destination marketing efforts in these markets,” the Minister said.
He also provided details of new flight arrangements and existing ones that have been expanded, consequent on discussions with airlines serving new and traditional markets.
"For the (current) Winter Tourist Season, we will commence an inaugural non-stop flight from Moscow, Russia, starting January 1, 2013 into Montego Bay. We have also confirmed flight service from the Czech Republic, starting December 28. In addition, there will also be non-stop service from Paris, France.
“Out of the United Kingdom, we will add another flight from Gatwick, London that will become a weekly service starting in May 2013; while British Airways will maintain its three flights to Kingston, and Virgin Atlantic Airways, its three flights to Montego Bay,” Dr. McNeill outlined.
The Minister said focus is also being placed on Latin America, while announcing that discussions with COPA Airlines have led to their confirming a doubling of their services from four to eight flights weekly flights into Jamaica, beginning the 2012 winter season.
“Approximately 1.1 million seats have already secured for the upcoming winter tourist season. These visitors will come from our traditional markets, including the United States, Canada, and Europe, as well as other markets such as Latin America,” the Minister disclosed.
Dr. McNeill said the anticipated tourist arrivals result from a sustained advertising programme spearheaded by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), which included year-long destination wedding campaigns; innovative social media initiatives; travel agent specialist programmes; and delving deeper into niche travel markets. He advised that Jamaica will be participating in upcoming trade and consumer shows, as well as other publicity initiatives to further boost the tourism product.