JIS News

Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, has confirmed a 3.4 per cent growth in visitor arrivals for January, compared with the same period last year.
Mr. Bartlett pointed out that the 138, 000 tourists who visited the island during the month would be, “the largest number of visitors to have ever come to Jamaica in the month of January, in any year.”
He made the disclosure at a press briefing on Wednesday(February 4) at his ministry, New Kingston.
The Minister credited the growth to intense advertising, marketing and promotion of the island overseas, especially for the start of the winter tourist season, and the staging of the annual Jazz and Blues festival last month.
“We were in a good position in January to benefit from the changing or severe weather conditions that our tourists were experiencing,” he said.
“In times such as these, people will travel to realize their passions. They have to be driven by some deeper value. When they have choices to make in terms of how to use their diminishing dollar, your destination must be impelling them to travel to you,” the Minister explained.
He also revealed that there was a major spike in tourist arrivals towards the end of the month, while Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival was being held.
“At the first week of January, we were down 6.4 per cent; the second week, we were down 0.3 per cent; the following week, we were up 1.3 per cent, then 1.8 per cent and the three days following that, we were up 51.1 per cent,” the Minister outlined.
“The point is that we saw the spike during the two weeks when the festival took place and if it was not for the staging of the festival, the overall growth in arrivals in January would not have happened,” he explained.
Mr. Bartlett said that a large portion of the visitors who came to Jamaica during the festival, were Jamaican nationals who came back for the event. He also said that hotels, both large and small, in the Montego Bay area were full to capacity.
Meanwhile, giving an update on the sector’s performance last year, the Minister pointed out that, despite the economic downturn in the major markets overseas, Jamaica experienced a four per cent growth with a total of 1,769,271 stop-over arrivals and US$2 billion earned in revenue.
Giving details on individual market performances, he said that the United States continued to dominate the arrivals, with some 1,150,942 visitors, representing an increase of 1.6 per cent over the previous year. Europe followed with 284,700 visitors, an increase of 1.5 per cent.
Special mention was made of Canada, the biggest growth market with arrivals from that country increasing by 23.9 per cent.
The Minister reported that stop-over arrivals from the Caribbean showed a very outstanding growth, increasing by 6.8 per cent, while the Latin American market grew by 32.5 per cent.
On the matter of cruise arrivals, Mr. Bartlett said that the performance has been less than desirable, but it represented a stable position, with the extensive redeployment of vessels out of the Caribbean into the Mediterranean last year. Cruise passenger arrivals totalled 1,088,701 representing a 7.7 per cent decline.
The Tourism Minister said that the focus of the sector is to drive the “strongest and deepest “creative energies, and find new ways to innovate and develop strategies and processes that will identify opportunities that will mitigate the impact of the economic downturn and create growth.

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