Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, is optimistic about a surge in arrivals for the upcoming Winter Tourist Season, which gets underway on December 15.
He said that the country was able to secure over a million seats for the five-month period, which ends in April 2010.
“We are looking into a Winter Season with greater hope and anticipation than last year. We have done better with our products, we have done better with our attractions overall, and we are very strong on marketing, and we are satisfied that this Winter Season is going to look good,” the Minister stated.
He was speaking to JIS News during a tour of the Dunn’s River Craft Market in Ocho Rios on Tuesday (December 8).
According to the Tourism Minister, with a number of markets being targeted, prospects were also good for the period leading into 2011.
“We have diversified our market; we have got airlifts coming out of South America, Europe, Canada and the United States, and we just came out of Southeast Asia where we have laid the ground work now for traffic to begin to flow out of China and those places towards the end of the year 2010 into 2011,” he informed.
Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (right), interacts with overseas visitors at the Ocho Rios Craft Park in St. Ann on Tuesday, (Dec. 8), when he toured the resort town.
The tour, which formed part of activities to mark Tourism Awareness Week from December 6 to 12, included stops at the newly refurbished Couples Resort as well as the Pineapple, Coconut Grove and Ocho Rios craft markets and the Old Craft Market Shoppes.
Addressing concerns of the vendors about a slowdown in business, Minister Bartlett explained that “what has happened is that the cruise arrivals have been down and it is so simply because the cruise lines had redeployed vessels out of the Caribbean into the Mediterranean.”
He noted, however, that “redeployment is now taking place back to the Caribbean as they have found that the Caribbean is the best market area for them and so we are expecting to see an increase in packs during the winter and onward.”
The redeployment of ships, he said, means that more visitors will come ashore and visit the craft shops.He is encouraging craft vendors to ensure that their goods are creative and are of high quality so as to spur the interest of the visitors who wish to make purchases.
“What we are driving now is for more originality and for more unique products because that is what is going to make the difference in competition,” Minister Bartlett stated.
The Minister said that the objective of Tourism Awareness Week, which includes visits to resort towns across the island, is to give persons the opportunity to reflect on the industry and its value to the country.