Bartlett touts Ja’s ‘strong recovery’ as tourist arrivals near 2019’s
Jamaica seems set to equal its 2019 tourist arrival figures, with June and July giving strong indications of what Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett has tagged as a “strong recovery”.
June 2022 has seen 224,721 stopover visitors to the island, surpassing June 2019, which had registered 222,448 visitors, Bartlett told The Gleaner Saturday, hours after returning to the island from the Sustainable Coastal and Marine Tourism event in Lisbon, Portugal.
This is the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic closed the country’s borders, decimating arrival numbers, that any month has exceeded 2019 numbers.
“And the trend is continuing, because July is trending in the same direction, and August. We expect that the second million visitors will arrive in October of this year, which will take us absolutely in line with the performance of 2019 in terms of stopover,” he stated confidently.
The country went over the one-million mark in stopover arrivals in mid-June.
The tourism minister described the arrival numbers as a tremendous performance, stressing that they speak directly to the full recovery that tourism is experiencing in terms of earnings, and also in terms of the island’s visitor arrivals.
“The performance, also, in terms of the economy is very clear. We have had record growth for every quarter since the pandemic and even in the last quarter, our tourism grew by 107 per cent over the previous period and it is expected that the second quarter, which ended in June, should see another record performance in terms of contribution to GDP,” he said.
Bartlett credited stakeholders for their role in the recovery efforts, using words such as ‘steadfast’ to define them. Careful to pinpoint issues that the sector is having with human capital and the level of negative employment that is being experienced, as well as some supply chain disruptions, he said airlines have been forced to reschedule and have had cancellations because pilots have not come back to work.
And even as he celebrated Jamaica’s solid recovery, which has surpassed other countries in the English-speaking Caribbean, Bartlett has been touting the country’s endorsement of achieving a sustainable tourism economy by 2030, but not without stressing that the “health and sustainability of our oceans are critical to the survival of the tourism industry”.
Giving the keynote address in Portugal last week, the tourism minister said the role of healthy marine and coastal systems in promoting sustainable tourism are especially worthy of recognition.
He cautioned that the beauty of tourist attractions contributes to their vulnerability, noting that “marine and coastal ecosystems are also threatened by tourism development”.
He contended that “the areas that appeal to tourists have been coming under increasing pressure from the damage and pollution caused by tourism facilities and the supporting infrastructure”.
Bartlett emphasised also that despite being a major driver of economic growth and job creation in the Caribbean, “cruise tourism produces a significant environmental impact,” pointing to the effects of large cruises, including the emission of greenhouse gases “which causes pollution and reduces the resilience of marine ecosystems, as well as damage to fragile coastal and marine environment, including corals”.
He noted that in order to promote a sustainable ocean economy and push back against the various threats to healthy coastal and marine ecosystems, “ocean action is urgently required as ocean health continues to rapidly decline”.
He called for a balancing of the economic gains earned from the blue economy with the biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of marine and coastal resources, as well as the social impact on coastal communities.