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Jamaica's tourism earnings projected to grow 4.6% in 2014

Published:Sunday | December 14, 2014 | 12:40 PM
The recently renovated Ocho Rios cruise ship pier - File

Jamaica is projected to see a 4.6 per cent uptick in foreign exchange earnings from tourism as officials remain optimistic about an improvement in the sector's performance during the winter tourist season.

The winter season officially begins tomorrow.

About 1.2 million seats have been secured to bring tourists into the island for the period which extends to April 2015. This represents an increase of 15 per cent over last season with air visits from the United States alone expected to increase by 58,000 seats.

At the same time the tourism ministry says it expects a 5.8 per cent increase in cruise ship passengers for the winter or in excess of 611,000 passengers, which it projects will push overall cruise arrivals up 10 per cent for 2014. Growth has been recorded in all three main ports in Falmouth, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.

Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill says the season will also be the strongest the country has ever experienced in terms of cruise ship arrivals. The country should receive a significant boost from the home porting of three cruise ships in Jamaica. The three luxury vessels are the MS Thompson Dream, the Ida Bella and the Louis Cristal.

The tourism minister says with Montego Bay serving as the home port for the MS Thompson Dream, Jamaica will get four additional flights from the United Kingdom.

McNeill says the tourism sector continues to be a major player in boosting the national economy, with gross foreign exchange earnings of over US$1.7 billion between January to October 2014. This represents an increase of 5.1 per cent over the same period last year.

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