JIS News

The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) is anticipating double-digit growth for the five-month winter tourist season which begins on December 15.
“December and the rest of the winter season is looking very strong…we are expecting in excess of 10 per cent growth for the industry,” said Deputy Director of Tourism, David Shields.
Mr. Shields has credited the strong growth to among other things, increased airlift out of the United States, which accounts for 70 per cent of the island’s tourist arrivals. He informed that US Airway and American Airlines would be introducing non-stop flights from Pittsburgh and Dallas respectively, into Montego Bay, while Delta Airways will now provide flights from Cincinnati.
Air Jamaica will be expanding its non-stop service from Fort Lauderdale and Spirit Airlines, the newcomer to the Jamaican market, which will also provide flights out of the United States.
Turning to accommodation, Mr. Shields informed that there has been a significant increase in room stock this year, with the development and expansion of some resorts.
He cited the recent opening of the Sandals Whitehouse in Westmoreland and Riu Ocho Rios and the renovation of Sunset Jamaica Grande and Swept Away. These developments, he said, would contribute significantly to the growth of the industry with almost 2,000 rooms being added to the available inventory.
Meanwhile, Mr. Shields said that bookings for January were “very strong” especially with the staging of the annual Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival.
“February is already showing very strong bookings both in terms of airline reservation and hotel bookings,” Mr. Shields revealed, noting that this was due to the emergence of two travelling periods – Valentine’s and President’s Day holiday in the United States.
The Deputy Director also informed that the cruise industry was looking “quite strong” with projections for growth in excess of six to seven per cent over the winter tourist season as over half million passengers were expected to arrive in the island over the next five months.
He noted that the Jamaican segment of the ‘Freestay Caribbean’ programme, which will be implemented at the start of the winter tourist season, was aimed at enticing cruise passengers to return to the island as land-based tourists.
‘Freestay Jamaica’ offers incentives such as discounts, room upgrades and complimentary or discounted tours and meals. Interested persons are given a memento in the form of a coin, which they redeem for benefits.
The coin is embossed with a map of the island and the doctor bird, along with the Freestay Caribbean website and telephone number for the Jamaica programme.
The Freestay Caribbean programme has been operational in some territories since 2001. The programme, which is endorsed by the JTB and sponsored by Seaboard Marine, was officially launched in Jamaica in September.
In addition to the United States, Mr. Shields said that a number of tourists were also expected out of Canada for the winter tourist season.