Jamaica tourism market grows by 5% first six months
Jamaica showed the world that it was safe despite a state of emergency (SOE), and the island has been rewarded with record tourist arrivals for the first six months of the year, Tourism Minister Edmund Barlet reported yesterday.
The SOE was called at the start of the winter tourist season, putting fear in many of the island's hoteliers as cancellations started coming in primarily from the Canadian and UK markets.
However, strong on-the-ground marketing engagements with key stakeholders by Bartlett and his team, the Jamaica Tourist Board, and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) staved off any significant fallout, resulting in increased growth in arrivals to the island's shores.
"Quick, aggressive, and sustained interventions," was how Bartlett described the efforts while addressing journalists at a press conference at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Friday.
The country recorded overall market growth of 5.4 per cent, with stopover arrivals increasing by 5.9 per cent and cruise ship visitors by 4.8 per cent over the same period last year. The numbers equate to 1.25 million in stopover arrivals and approximately one million in cruise arrivals.
Of note is that the sector brought in US$1.56 billion in foreign exchange earnings, which represents an increase of 7.3 per cent. Stopover arrivals accounted for US$1.46 billion in earnings, up 7.2 per cent, and cruise US$100.6 million, an increase of 9.4 per cent.
"I am extremely excited about our earnings because it is not normal for earnings to grow ahead of arrivals. This means that we are firmly on track to bringing in the five million visitors by 2021," the tourism minister declared.
Cementing the statements made by the minister, president of the JHTA, Omar Robinson, said that travel agents, influencers and their social media postings of what was happening, showing that the SOE was not affecting law-abiding citizens and the free movement of visitors, contributed significantly to this outcome.
Director of Tourism Donovan White concurred, noting that it has been all hands on deck as teams locally and overseas spread the message of Destination Jamaica's commitment to security and safety.
"As we ramp up digital marketing strategies among a range of other initiatives, we are to improve on these figures," said White.