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Jamaica tourism slumps in summer, but record intact for 2015

Published:Tuesday | November 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The summer tourism season wasn't as strong as previously predicted.

In fact, stopover arrivals declined by 1.3 per cent from year-earlier levels during the three months ending August. Cruise passenger arrivals rose by 3.1 per cent during that period, but that represented a slowdown from the 15 per cent growth experienced in the winter months.

Jamaica Tourism Board (JTB) data showed that the decline in the number of visitors overnighting in Jamaica largely reflected a fall-off in tourists coming from North America.

There was a 1.3 per cent reduction in stopover arrivals from the US - Jamaica's largest market, representing 70 per cent of visitors. From Canada - the second-largest market for Jamaica, representing 12 per cent of arrivals - the numbers fell more dramatically, by 7.9 per cent.

Northern Europe, which includes the UK, showed the most promising figures for the summer months. Stopover arrivals from there rose by 7.8 per cent.

Still, Jamaica is projected to see a new record for tourism arrivals. JTB data show that stopover arrivals for the first eight months of 2015 were 2.1 per cent higher than year-earlier levels. Cruise passenger arrivals rose by nine per cent.

Statistics from the Port Authority of Jamaica show a 29 per cent jump in cruise passenger arrivals in September. The operator of Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay - the hub for stopover tourist arrivals in Jamaica - also reported a nine per cent increase in traffic during that month.

MBJ Airports said that it estimates that airlift will increase even higher towards the end of 2015.

"During November and December of 2015, Southwest will be initiating operations from Houston Hobby, American will initiate operations from Los Angeles, German Wings from Cologne, Condor from Frankfurt and Munich, and Thomas Cook will initiate operations from Guttenberg," the airport concessionaire said.