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Montego Bay 9th most popular destination for Americans

Published:Sunday | January 17, 2016 | 1:00 AMSteven Jackson

Montego Bay kept its rank for a third year as the ninth most loved vacation destination for Americans, based on the findings from Travel Leaders Group's 2016 travel trends survey.

It signals the endurance of the Jamaican resort city's brand during a period in which Paris, France, another heavy brand, got kicked out of the top 10 for the first time.

US vacationers also chose the Caribbean as the top cruise destination, while the number one domestic destination was Orlando, Florida.

"Year-over-year bookings are strong heading into 2016, reflecting the psyche of the American traveller and the continued belief that travel is viewed as a right versus a luxury. The positive booking data also reflects how our agents work to exceed each client's individual travel needs and comfort levels," said Travel Leaders Group chief executive officer, Ninan Chacko, of the report's findings.

Montego Bay previously improved in the annual survey from 10th best destination, but has remained at No. 9 for three years. Other cities are gaining ground, with Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic jumping from eighth to fifth place, and Florence, Italy, moving from 12th to eighth.

Travel Leaders Group's survey was conducted from November 17 - December 8, 2015, with responses from 1,316 US-based travel agency owners, managers and front line travel agents from the flagship Travel Leaders brand. Additional responses came from Travel Leaders Group's All Aboard Travel; Cruise Specialists; Nexion, Protravel International; Results! Travel; Travel Leaders Corporate; Tzell Travel Group; and Vacation.com units.

 

largest agency

Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry's largest traditional travel agency companies with annual sales of some US$20 billion throughout 6,500 locations.

Roughly two-thirds of all visitors to Jamaica arrive from the US, according to data from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB). Montego Bay remains the island's most popular resort area, attracting 34 per cent of all stopover tourists, followed by Ocho Rios at 22 per cent, Negril at 19 per cent, and Kingston at 10 per cent.

Cruise passengers, however, opt for Falmouth and Ocho Rios over Montego Bay at 48 per cent, 28 per cent and 23 per cent, respectively. Most recent data from the JTB indicate that Jamaica received 1.74 million stopover visitors and 1.2 million cruise passengers between January to October 2015 or 2.2 per cent and 7.7 per cent higher than the same period a year ago.

France experienced a deadly terrorist attack in 2015 which led to safety concerns for its citizens and travellers to that country, but the outlook for the destination and American travel in general are encouraging.

"Overall, the trends are very positive, yet a spotlight continues to shine on Paris," said Chacko. "However, with less than a percentage point separating Paris from Mexico's Riviera Maya at number 10, it's more telling that an overwhelming majority of our agents indicated they'd travel to Paris given the opportunity an endorsement not only for the famed city, but also for not allowing fear to dictate our lives."

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com