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Tourism Minister, the Hon.Edmund Bartlett has revealed that preliminary figures indicate that a record 26,664 stop over visitors arrived in Jamaica between Thursday February 17 and Sunday February 20, 2011. In making the disclosure, Minister Bartlett said the arrivals represent an increase of 6,004 over the 20,660 that arrived over the same period last year.

He expressed that “Jamaica’s stop over arrival figures continue to be very good with a number of the island’s hotels reporting very high occupancy levels.When the over 20,000 stop over visitors between last Thursday and Saturday is added to the cruise arrivals in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and at the newly opened port in Falmouth for the same period, the tourism sector would have earned over US$30 million."

Minister Bartlett added that “while the arrivals are very good, we are not totally surprised as the ground work was done earlier through aggressive and strategic marketing in traditional and non-traditional markets. We ensured that there were adequate air seats into the island for this winter season and our projections of a 5 to 7% increase in arrivals for the season, remains on track.”

The Tourism Minister said suggestions in some quarters that the good arrival figures are due only to tourists wanting a break from cold weather conditions in North America and Europe, are not accurate,and emphasised that aggressive marketing played a major role. “In fact we view the bad weather conditions as an added reason for visitors, after being exposed to our promotional work in their area, to come to Jamaica. We will continue to aggressively market Jamaica and all its new products to ensure that our hotel rooms are occupied and that our people remain employed."

Minister Bartlett outlined that January saw a 9.2% increase in visitor arrivals and February’s figure is expected to be very good when the final tabulation is done.

The Minister’s announcement came as he hailed the inaugural launch of the Diageo Learning for Life Project Tourism this morning. Minister Bartlett, who was the Keynote Speaker at the event, welcomed the programme, which is the company’s latest skills Training Project in Jamaica. The Minister expressed pleasure at the fact that the initiative will provide hands-on training in the areas of Landscaping, Housekeeping, Food & Beverage Service, Cookery (Commercial Food Preparation), and Hospitality Training, to international standards, for some 420 unemployed and unskilled young adults within the age range of 18 – 35 years.

Minister Bartlett, in lauding the initiative emphasized that “Diageo through the training they provide will make our tourism industry even more competitive and lead to greater foreign exchange earnings and retention locally."

 

Issued by: The Ministry of Tourism