Tourist numbers rise high for fall - Big stopover increase recorded in usually stagnant season
Jamaica's stopover arrivals for the usually stagnant fall season have been literally bursting at the seams, with October alone showing an astonishing 16.2 per cent increase.
These, according to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, are not only amazingly high numbers, which sets Jamaica apart from its regional competitors, but are at such a stratospheric level that the country should easily be receiving its four millionth visitor by December 1.
"In October, usually a month reserved by hoteliers for refurbishing or sending the staff home until business picks up, we saw a record 157,380 in visitor arrivals, representing a 16.2 per cent increase," Bartlett pointed out.
"Figures as it relates to foreign nationals were up by 17.1 per cent, while non-resident Jamaicans were up by 4.8 per cent. Our top market, the United States of America, was up by 17.7 per cent and with arrivals accounting for 97,684 visitors."
Bartlett, however, noted that the most significant jump came from a market that Jamaica has been struggling with for quite some time but with which it has only recently regained a significant footing.
"When we took over as government, we were down 17 per cent in Canada," he explained. "We had left it at 390,000, and it just fell dramatically."
"I personally visited Canada with a delegation where we met with tour operators, travel partners and the airlines. We developed a strategy where we also increased our airlift capacity. I must also point out the tremendous partnership we developed with Sun Wing, which resulted in turning around the Canada numbers dramatically, where in October, we were up by 17.1 per cent," Bartlett further added.
Bartlett said that with the numbers moving the way they are out of the main markets of the United States, Canada, and Europe, particularly Great Britain, there is little doubt that Jamaica is on track to exceed all of its growth projections in tourism.
"Every conceivable figure is up in Europe and to the point where we are now the number one destination in the Caribbean for British tourists, surpassing Barbados," he further declared.
The minister also pointed out that cruise arrivals for the month of October grew by a whopping 66.3 per cent, recording 150,076 passengers from 39 cruise ship calls. Falmouth Port, he noted, was up by 58.2 per cent, with 75,403 passengers from 15 cruise calls.
For his part, Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association President Omar Robinson said that his organisation was pleased with the growth in visitor arrivals experienced, especially over the summer months, which usually, are slower months.
"We have had the best July ever on record, and the rest of the summer was outstanding. Preliminary numbers for October have surpassed previous years. Our traditional markets of the USA and Canada continue to perform well," he pointed out.
"After we experienced the decline in the Canadian market, the Ministry of Tourism and the Jamaica Tourist Board have implemented a number of programmes and promotions to re-energise this market. This has seen some positive results, and the Canadian market is now very strong. We have also seen positive growth from our European markets."