JIS News

With some three weeks before the 2010 winter tourist season ends, Jamaica is recording its highest ever arrival figures for the period, with about 600,000 guests visiting the island’s shores.
Speaking to members of the sector during the announcement of finalists for the Tourism Service Excellence Programme (TSEP) 2009 at the Hilton hotel in New Kingston yesterday (March 25), Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett said this has been “the best winter season Jamaica has ever had.”
“To date, we are on the edge of 600,000 visitors into the country since the 15th of December, a record that has never happened before and we are looking to the end of the season to be somewhere close to 700,000,” he stated. The winter tourist season ends on April 15.
Mr. Bartlett credited much of this success to the aggressive marketing strategies employed by his team, praising them for their hard work over the last few months.
He also pointed to the air service agreement with American Airlines, which guaranteed airlift to Jamaica, as a successful venture.
He said the world was changing and that the rest of the Caribbean must follow suit in order to stay on top. “We went after those gateways to restore them, to ensure that we didn’t lose the traffic out of those gateways and indeed to even expand on it. The result is we didn’t lose, we gained and Jamaica is better off for it,” he argued.
“We were able to get one million seats for this winter and by virtue of that level of connectivity from the destinations around the world, we are able to be boasting these kinds of numbers now,” he added.
The Tourism Minister said that compared to several other Caribbean destinations, which have spent close to US$30 million to 40 million to procure air services to their destinations, Jamaica has only spent a little over US$2 million “and the result is that we grew and the rest of the Caribbean is in deficit today.”
“We have gotten growth out of the United States when that market contracted by 20 per cent last year – Jamaica was the only country that grew and we grew by two per cent,” he informed.
In the meantime, some 28 individuals and organisations were selected for the finals of the TSEP award in recognition of their outstanding customer service and contribution to the tourism sector. The winners for both categories will be announced on May 1.

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