JIS News

Despite a downturn in tourist arrivals in some countries, Jamaica ended the year 2008 with a four per cent growth over the previous year.
This growth has continued into 2009, with the arrival figure for January to April 2009 also showing an increase over the similar period for 2008.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, reported the increase at the Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) 2009 Media Luncheon, held at the Half Moon Hotel on Tuesday (May 12).
“So far, this month of May has been a record for us in arrivals, as in the first 11 days, we are up 16 per cent over the similar period for last year,” Mr. Bartlett noted.
The Minister pointed out that the positive figures were the result of hard work from all stakeholders within the Jamaican tourist industry, adding that it was not all smooth sailing. He said there has been a number of difficulties to overcome along the way, some coming in the form of fiscal and other policies being introduced by some of the originating markets for tourists coming to Jamaica.
He cited the Arrival Passenger Duty (APD) being imposed by the British Government, which he said, could cause Jamaica and other Caribbean countries that dependent on tourism to lose visitors and money.
“It is not a new tax, but it is a tax which has been structured in a new way, and in such a way as to discriminate against us in the Caribbean, because of how they have organised their geographical regions, and the way in which they have attempted to allocate cost in relation to each geographical area in the bands, as they call them,” he explained.
The Minister pointed out that the APD is applied within four bands, A, B, C and D, each relative to the distance from London to the receiving country’s capital.
“The fact is that tourism for the Caribbean, as you know, is our bread and butter. The Caribbean is the most tourism dependent region in the world. And, in our case in Jamaica, 280,000 citizens of the United Kingdom (UK) visit us every year. That provides for us pretty close to 250 million pounds sterling in gross earnings. The increase (in APD) that is being applied to air passengers from the UK to Jamaica would have the impact of reducing arrivals by 15 to 20 per cent,” Mr. Bartlett said.
He pointed out that the country stands to lose some 50 million pounds sterling in earnings, if that policy continues.
The Minister said that Jamaica is fully participating in a Caribbean lobby, which is seeking a review of the APD by the UK Government, to allow for a greater level of equity as it relates to that tax.

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