Jamaica tourist arrivals up 13.6 percent this year

The rise in cruise-ship visitors to Jamaica has kept the country’s tourist arrivals afloat, with a 13.6 per cent increase in the first eight months of 2011, says Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.

Stopover arrivals, the most important segment of the industry increased by just 2.2 per cent in the same period after a 5.1 per cent boost in the first months of 2011. This shows that stopover arrivals have declined between May and August by approximately one per cent, compared with the same period in 2010.

Addressing delegates at the 21st annual Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) Trade Show at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Rose Hall, last Sunday night, Bartlett said provisional figures indicate that there was a 5.7 per cent increase in total visitors (cruise and stop-over) between January to August of this year, with 2,098,964 arrivals compared to the 1,985,784 recorded for the same period last year.

Up to August, Jamaica had gross earnings of US$1.48 billion, which represents a 3.4 per cent increase over the US$1.43 billion the country earned for the same period in 2010. Actual retained earnings are a fraction of the gross earnings reported by the tourism minister.

Bartlett expressed that “the figures indicate that Jamaica remains a very attractive destination in a very competitive tourism market. Our team of marketers has been beating the pavements in sourcing business for our country, and so far, the results have been tremendous.”

He noted that Jamaica’s arrival figures were expected to be significantly boosted by the introduction of several new flights from the South American market later this year with the addition of Copa Airlines flights. The minister expressed that “with the new service offered by Copa, as of December 11, 2011, Copa flights through Panama City into Montego Bay will be available from 58 cities in North, Central and South America. This arrangement will certainly redound to the benefit of the sector and will help to boost tourism arrivals and earnings.”

JAPEX, which ends today, attracted the largest contingent of buyers in over 10 years. Nearly 500 delegates were in attendance, including 125 buyers and 320 suppliers.

“This historic event is a clear demonstration of the lucrative linkages existing between the international tourism markets and local tourism entities. This is truly a Jamaica Product Exchange in all senses,” stated Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association president Evelyn Smith.

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