• JIS News

    Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, has said that the sector recorded five per cent growth since the start of the year, and has exceeded the performance of all other destinations in the Caribbean, and Latin, and South America.
    Speaking at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, he stated that preliminary figures as at September 21, indicate that the island received 1.2 million stop-over visitors since the start of the year, with earnings amounting to US$1.4 billion.
    Cruise arrivals, Minister Bartlett pointed out, “have not moved apace with the land-based arrivals and consequently has depressed the overall percentage growth for tourism in general.”
    He outlined however, that although the majority of earnings come from stop-over arrivals, cruise arrivals provide an immediate employment opportunity for the informal sector within the tourism industry.
    “This (cruise arrivals) is where the man in the street gets his break, those who have creative items for sale and merchandising within the areas of the port,” he explained, adding, “this is also where the attractions get a substantial portion of their earnings…so we recognise the value of cruise in that context,” whilst emphasising that the accommodation sector, which is driven by the land-based tourist is the huge income earner.
    He noted that the average spend of the land-based visitor is US$115 compared with US$93 for cruise ship passengers.
    In terms of expansion and development of the product, Minister Bartlett noted that since the start of the year, the hotel room stock has increased from 27,000 to 30,000. He added that construction of new rooms is steadily growing and that by 2012, the number of rooms should increase to 45,000.
    “This year we have brought in a number of new attractions including the Mystic Mountains, which is a key and unique attraction, being one of a kind in the Caribbean,” the Tourism Minister informed.
    Other attractions, which have grown and expanded over the period, include Cool Runnings Water Park in Negril, the Dolphin Cove attraction, and the Chukka Adventure Tours.
    Minister Bartlett has pledged his commitment to the continued development of the sector, noting that he will “leave no stone unturned in seeking to find the attractions, the investment, more room accommodations and cruise developments, because we’re determined to bring more heads to beds, to convert lookers into bookers and to bring more feet to the streets of Jamaica”.