JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says arrival figures since the start of the year have been at an all-time high, with the country poised to welcome a historic one million visitors by the end of June.
  • “We have never seen figures like what we saw for April and May. June also looks like something special and where we should be seeing over one million in visitor arrivals for the first time ever over a six-month period,” he informed.
  • The Minister told reporters and tourism stakeholders in attendance that it was because of the record arrival numbers in months traditionally seen as low that the Ministry has decided to do away with the observance of special tourist seasons.

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says arrival figures since the start of the year have been at an all-time high, with the country poised to welcome a historic one million visitors by the end of June.

“We have never seen figures like what we saw for April and May. June also looks like something special and where we should be seeing over one million in visitor arrivals for the first time ever over a six-month period,” he informed.

He was addressing a ceremony at the Sangster International Airport on June 2 to welcome the inaugural Southwest Airlines flight out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, into Montego Bay.

The Minister told reporters and tourism stakeholders in attendance that it was because of the record arrival numbers in months traditionally seen as low that the Ministry has decided to do away with the observance of special tourist seasons.

“Jamaica will no longer be celebrating the start of any season. The winter season, which started on December 15 and ended on April 30 will be the last of its kind,” he said.

“That will be the last time you will hear us ushering the start of a new season, as we will be open for business all year round. Jamaica’s tourism has graduated where we will be flying high right throughout the year,” he noted.

“The fall will be busy, the summer will be busy and spring will also be busy,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Minister informed that some 1,000 new rooms will be coming on stream, for which ground is expected to be broken by October 2017.

“We are also seeing an unusually high number of airlifts that have been streaming in from new markets, in addition to the island now simultaneously playing host to some of the largest cruise ships to ever be built. Added to the mix is the fact that we will be hosting the biggest conference the region has ever seen in November – the United Nations World Tourism Conference,” he said.

He noted that the sector is also seeing a strong level of retention of the tourism dollar, where the smaller players can enjoy some of the benefits being realised.

“I have always maintained that some 80 per cent or higher of tourism worldwide is for the so-called small man,” Mr. Bartlett pointed out.

“While we should never begrudge the larger players for whatever it is they are making, especially when you look at their levels of investment and the risks they have been taking, we should and must also spare a thought for the little guy who is also out there trying his best to compete,” he noted.

Mr. Bartlett stressed that tourism is on the right track and will continue to be the vehicle that will drive economic growth and prosperity for all Jamaicans.