Tue | Sep 18, 2018

JA recorded growth in tourist arrivals, earnings during the first six months of 2018

Published:Friday | July 6, 2018 | 6:48 PM
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett displaying tourism figures for the first six months of 2018 at a press conference on Friday, July 7, 2018.

Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer

Jamaica showed the world that it was safe despite a state of public emergency in the tourism capital St James, and new tourism figures show that the island record increased tourist arrivals and earnings for the first six months of the year.

The security measure was imposed 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 United Kingdom markets.

However, with urgency, strong on-the-ground marketing engagements with key stakeholders by Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett and his team, the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), any significant fallout was stave off, 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 today.

The country recorded overall market growth of 5.4 per cent with stopover arrivals increasing by 5.9 per cent and cruise by 4.8 per cent over the same period last year. The numbers equate to 1,253,236 million in stopover arrivals and 1,025,782 in cruise arrivals.

“This means over 100 thousand more tourists for the period and a sizeable increase in foreign exchange earnings,” the tourism minister boasted.

Of note, is that the sector brought in US$1.556 billion in foreign exchange earnings, which represents an increase of 7.3 per cent. Stopover arrivals accounted for US$1.459 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 we are firmly on track to bringing in the five million visitors by 2021,” said the tourism minister.

Cementing the statements made by Bartlett, JHTA president Omar Robinson said posts on social media by travel agents and influencers highlighting that the state of public emergency did not affect law-abiding citizens and the free movement of visitors contributed significantly to the outcomes recorded during the period.

Director of Tourism Donovan White concurred noting that no effort was speared by teams locally and overseas to spread the message of destination Jamaica’s commitment to security and safety.

“As we ramp up [our] digital marketing strategies, among a range of other initiatives, we are to improve on these figures,” said White.

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