JIS News

Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, has expressed confidence that recent visits to the United States, Canada, and Eastern Europe, will result in an increase in visitor arrivals from these countries.
“We are satisfied that Europe is going to be very strong, Canada is going to be particularly strong, and the United States is going to be very good,” he said, noting that the upcoming winter tourist season promises to be one of the “best seasons” that the country has ever experienced.
Mr. Bartlett was addressing journalists at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House on (Nov. 21).
He noted that the country had recovered from the downturn early in the year and the figures for September show a 4.8 per cent increase in arrivals over the same period last year.
“Last month we had a whopping nine per cent growth over last year and November is looking very good and the bookings for December are very, very strong indeed, noting that the year should end at a small positive of about 1 per cent.
“A good season is anticipated, we were very distressed that we could end this season in a negative but in the last three months we have picked up significantly,” he said.
The Tourism Minister blamed the decline on implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which invokes a passport requirement for all United States (US) citizens returning home from the Caribbean, Latin America and Canada. “We did suffer last year, and more so this year because the US market fell by some 10-12 per cent as a result of the passport requirement,” he informed. “The good news is that the turnaround time for processing passport has now been significantly reduced to eight weeks. Also, the number of passports that have been processed so far has increased significantly too and this year, we are looking at some 20 million passports that will be processed,” he informed.

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