THE COMBINED 35,000 seats confirmed by European tour operators, Virgin Holidays and TUI, could result in potential earnings totalling US$34 million for Jamaica, says Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill.
Both deals were sealed at Jamaica House 02 Arena, during the 2012 London Olympics. Virgin has committed a year-round flight from Gatwick, London. TUI has finalised an extra fortnightly flight in the winter and weekly flights in the summer from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham.
Excited about the prospects, McNeill told employees at the Secrets Resort and Spa's Employee and Leader of the Quarter Award Ceremony last Thursday night that the earnings could far outpace the US$1.5 million (£1 million) invested in Jamaica House promotional activities during the Olympics.
The minister explained that it was a known fact that visitors from Europe spend 11.5 nights on average, and British visitors often spend 15.4 nights. "Based on the average spend of US$1,000 by each visitor, the seats confirmed by Virgin could yield some US$24 million in potential tourism earnings. Likewise, the seats confirmed by TUI could result in potential earnings of US$10 million."
The additional seats are a result of preliminary discussions with Virgin earlier this year, prior to the Olympics.
The news comes as UK tour operators report a considerable increase in holiday bookings as a direct result of Jamaica's high profile during the London 2012 Olympics.
Cognisant of the fact that earnings are not achieved only by visitors arriving on our shores, McNeill lauded Secrets for having invested in improving the service delivery skills of its workers, which had led to them being among the highest standard of personalised, first-class service.
"It is the ability of our people to deliver on the brand promise of excellent and hospitable service that sets us apart, and which is now accepted as the norm by millions across the globe. This promise is being delivered by many of you whom we are recognising today," he told the workers, adding that the award ceremony was the measure of the country's success as a destination.
The minister implored them to continue to challenge themselves to grow and to improve.