Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett, says the recovery of the tourism sector is taking place faster than anticipated with arrivals for the year now projected at 1.8 million visitors.
He credited the strong performance to Jamaica’s management of the pandemic, noting that the “quality of the product was maintained”, which has “done us well”.
He noted that over the last three months, weekend arrivals have been significant, averaging 15,000 visitors over the three-day period, and with new flights coming into the island, the numbers are poised to increase even further.
This, he said, means that jobs and revenue flow were coming back at a much faster rate.
“We’re excited at the prospect, therefore, of continued growth and I reiterate that the continued development of the industry, the growth of our economy and the resumption of jobs, is a function of the responsibility of all of us,” Minister Bartlett said.
“We must continue to observe protocols, uphold the principles of good management of the entire area, including the resilient corridors, which have proven to be one of the most powerful marketing tools for Jamaica,” he added.
Minister Bartlett was addressing the reopening of the Chukka Good Hope attraction in Trelawny on July 2.
He lauded Chukka for “its first-class attractions and unwavering commitment to the tourism industry”.
Executive Director of Chukka Caribbean Adventures, John Byles, said there is every indication that the tourism sector is poised for an “amazingly strong” and earlier-than-expected recovery.
Mr. Byles, who is also the chairman of the Tourism Resilient Corridors Committee (TRCC) and Vice President for Tourism in the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), said that if the current growth trajectory for stopover arrivals continues, coupled with the expected return of the cruise ships in the fall season, Jamaica could be looking at some pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) numbers “from summer all the way into the winter”.
“From what I have been seeing and hearing… the summer and fall…going into the winter… is going to be great,” Mr. Byles said.
“If someone had told me five to six months ago that we would be looking at these kinds of numbers from the summer going into the fall, I probably would not have believed. We are actually elated to be reopening Good Hope… which is more of a cruise ship-dependent attraction,” he said, noting that the attraction is seeing a greater-than-expected demand even without the return of the cruise ships.
Mr. Byles, in the meantime, said he is pleased with the high level of camaraderie among tourism stakeholders, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a renewed sense of togetherness and the reality that “we are all in this together”.
He noted that Chukka Caribbean Adventures has been through a “very rough period” and like many other entities, had to re-engineer its operations.
“We really appreciate the support from the Government, our bankers, suppliers and landlord through this very difficult period,” he said.
“This was truly a rough period…a once in a 100-year situation… something that no one could have predicted. Chukka, however, took the downtime to re-engineer, not just to meet the COVID-19 requirements but also to improve value to our customers. Coming to Chukka now is an even better experience today than ever,” Mr. Byles said.