JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The upcoming winter tourist season expected to be one of the best ever.
  • There were 1,659,330 visitors from January to October 2013.
  • The figures for Montego Bay and Kingston are showing increases for September and October.

Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, says the tourism industry is showing good results, with the upcoming winter tourist season expected to be one of the best ever.

“I am pleased to tell you that the tourism industry is doing well. We have enjoyed a good summer after a relatively weak winter (2012) and even with 2,000 (10 per cent) of room inventory off the market, Jamaica’s visitor arrivals since August have bucked the regional trend for flat arrivals in 2013,” the Minister said.

Dr. McNeill, who was addressing the official launch of the Agro-Tourism Farmers’ Market Initiative in Negril on October 30, informed that there were 1,659,330 visitors from January to October, which is a 0.2 per cent increase over the same period last year.

“In fact, we are experiencing the best October ever,” he said, noting that arrivals are expected to reach the two million mark by year-end.

He said the figures for Montego Bay and Kingston are showing increases for September and October, with Kingston’s performance being particularly impressive, given the absence of 303 rooms due to the closure of Wyndham Kingston Hotel.

He credited the improvements to the continued drive to diversify the source markets, moving beyond the traditional markets of the United States, Canada, and Western Europe, and tapping into Latin American and Eastern Europe.

“We have good airlifts arrangements in place,” the Tourism Minister indicated.

“Starting November 1, Russia will be moving from 320 seats to 500 seats. Then on November 7, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner will make its inaugural flight to the Caribbean, landing in Montego Bay.  The extended flying range and fuel efficiency of this Dreamliner mean bigger and better things for Jamaica as it will open up new market opportunities for Jamaica, enabling us to reach deeper into Europe and Asia than had been possible before,” he pointed out.

The Minister also revealed that the waiving of visa requirements has assisted in gaining ground in Russia and opened the door to Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Hungary and Sweden) the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine.

“While these numbers are great for Jamaica and great for the economy, I am on a mission to ensure that every Jamaican benefits from the tourism earnings. Tourism can be sustainable if the man on the ground is involved and enjoys the tourism returns,” Dr. McNeill said.