JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Jamaica has secured two million airlift seats for stopover visitors, out of its traditional tourist markets of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom/Europe, for the upcoming 2014 summer tourist season.
  • 1.4 million seats have been secured out of the United States, an increase of 11 per cent.
  • The USA, Canada, and UK/Europe continue to be Jamaica’s major source markets for stopover arrivals.

Jamaica has secured two million airlift seats for stopover visitors, out of its traditional tourist markets of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom/Europe, for the upcoming 2014 summer tourist season.

Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, has informed that 1.4 million seats have been secured out of the United States, an increase of 11 per cent; 260,000 out of Canada, a 21.6 per cent increase; and 163,000 out of the UK/Europe, representing a 10 per cent increase.

The Minister made the announcement during his 2014/15 Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on May 27, under the theme – ‘Tourism:  Delivering on its Promise of Opportunities and Growth’.

Dr. McNeill noted that the USA, Canada, and UK/Europe continue to be Jamaica’s major source markets for stopover arrivals. He informed that the North American market, comprising the United States and Canada, account for 80 per cent of arrivals to Jamaica.

The Minister said the United States has remained “our main market” over the past several years and pointed out that while arrivals from that country have grown, “we believe we can do better, and will be paying particular attention to this market.”

“The good news is that Southwest Airlines, the largest US carrier, with connections to most cities in America, will (commence) operating flights to Sangster International Airport (in Montego Bay) on July 1. This will bring exciting new opportunities for penetrating the US market, even further,” he added.

In relation to Canada, which he described as Jamaica’s second largest visitor source market, Dr. McNeill said the country is poised to benefit from increased arrivals out of this destination.

Following four years of decline experienced with the United Kingdom market, Dr. McNeill said Jamaica began to experience a resurgence out of that destination                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              in 2013.

He advised that increased demand for travel to Jamaica has resulted in a 70 per cent increase in airlift from the UK over the last two years.

“Last year, we had growth of 4.7 per cent, and the early figures up to February, show 9.2 per cent growth, which confirms the rebound in this critical market,” the Minister  said.

He also welcomed the UK’s institution of a revised and “more equitable method” of calculating its Air Passenger Duty (APD), adding that “we are confident (this) will give further momentum in that market.”

In relation to the wider European market, Dr. McNeill noted that the region has been “performing well,” having faced the “worst economic challenges” in recent years.

The Minister pointed out that the city of Munich became Germany’s newest “gateway” to Jamaica, beginning November 2013. He argued that the city will be an important channel for potential visitors from Germany’s southern region, as well as German-speaking nations, and countries in Eastern Europe.

Dr. McNeill said the Russian market has been a “major breakthrough” for Jamaica, and that since establishing connections with that country in January 2013, it has delivered nearly 14,500 visitors, with over 12,000 arriving in last year.

“So successful was the new service that the operator had applied to provide scheduled service. However, current events in Ukraine have (delayed) those plans. We have continued to have dialogue with the operators and are hopeful that this situation can be resolved and we will see a return to service from this important source market,” he added.

Dr. McNeill advised that under an initiative targeting Scandinavian countries, direct flights between Stockholm, Sweden and Montego Bay, commenced during the 2013 winter season, with each flight being provided by tour operators, Thomas Cook and TUI.

“This has been of particular significance because it is a fourteen day rotation generating individual stays of said length.  This year we will see the addition in November of two new gateways, Helsinki and Copenhagen, and due to this we confidently expect growth from these Scandinavian markets,” the Minister said.