JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Boasting attractions which rank amongst the best in the world, Jamaica continues to be a first choice tourism destination, industry players say.
  • They point to the fact that the island recently broke the two million mark in stopover arrivals and is on course to see further growth in both cruise ship and stopover visitors.
  • Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, told a Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) audience in Montego Bay a few weeks ago, that not only are the traditional markets of the United States and Great Britain doing well, but there are also live action coming out of other areas.

Boasting attractions which rank amongst the best in the world, Jamaica continues to be a first choice tourism destination, industry players say.

They point to the fact that the island recently broke the two million mark in stopover arrivals and is on course to see further growth in both cruise ship and stopover visitors.

“It is a fact we are no longer just sun, sand and sea,” says Ocho Rios Resort Board President, Dr. Roosevelt Crooks, in an interview with JIS News.

“We continue to distinguish ourselves by building new and exciting attractions, giving our visitors a lot more by way of options. Regardless of how many new players are in the game, Jamaica’s tourism will always have a competitive edge,” he argues.

Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, told a Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) audience in Montego Bay a few weeks ago, that not only are the traditional markets of the United States and Great Britain doing well, but there are   also live action coming out of other areas.

“We are opening up new markets every year. We already have flights from Nordic countries, such as Norway and Sweden, and next year we will see the first direct flight from Dublin, Ireland, to Montego Bay,” he noted.

In an interview with JIS News, Dr. McNeill says the cruise ship industry is driven by soft adventures.

“When people go on cruises, they want stuff to do. This is why the attractions are very important to the sector.  A good product is easy to market, but it’s not only about marketing the product, it’s also about market development,” he explains.

“In Ocho Rios (St. Ann), you have Dunn’s River Falls and Mystic Mountain. In Portland, there is rafting on the Rio Grande … certain soft adventure experiences that drive these areas,” the Minister adds.

Meanwhile, Port Antonio Resort Board Chairman, Larry Robertson, says the parish of Portland will be using the fact that it has some of the “best attractions in the world” as a catalyst to tap into the tourism market.

“It is a fact that the tourist of today will not just be satisfied with food, drink and a beach. In Portland, we have some world class attractions that need some polishing and this is what my organisation will be lobbying the Government to get done,” he emphasises.

“We have the best jerk cuisine on the entire planet in Boston Jerk and we also have rafting on the Rio Grande, Somerset Falls, Blue Lagoon, Reach Falls, Nonsuch Caves, Blue Mountain, the annual Marlin Tournament, the Errol Flynn Marina, the Titchfield Peninsula, Folly Ruins and Winnifred Beach. I believe we have the most attractions in the country. We don’t have the luxury of large cruise ships, so our strategy is that we have to develop and market these attractions,” Mr. Robertson says.

Gobind Dansinghani, owner of the Wata Land Eco Water Park, in Industry, St. Mary, says Jamaica has learnt from the experiences of places like Orlando, Las Vegas and New Jersey, that it takes a diversified tourism product to attract visitors.

“Fortunately, we never just sat on our laurels and say that this is the mighty Jamaica and tourists will always be here. Here at Wata Land, we saw the opportunity to do something special and so we pumped over US$1 million to create this gem here in the White River Valley of St. Mary. Yes, we are the new kid on the block, but we are confident that very soon we will also be making our mark in tourism,” he says.

President of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), Michelle Paige, has predicted that the destination that packages its tourism offering to suit the needs of the visitor is more likely to do better than those who do not.

On a visit to Montego Bay as a guest of the city’s Chamber of Commerce a few years ago, she noted that for the country to become an ideal cruise shipping destination, it has to develop newer and better attractions for visitors.

“A happy passenger will not only spend money, but will probably come back as a stopover visitor,” Ms. Paige noted.