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Dollar's decline brings Brits ashore

Published:Thursday | January 28, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer


THE DEPRECIATION of the Jamaican dollar could become a windfall for bargain-hunting British holidaymakers, says research just released by the Post Office.

Britain remains the country's third-largest source market and the biggest European region for Jamaica's thriving tourism industry.

Since last year, the Jamaican dollar has weakened against the pound sterling, more than any other major currency, said the report, resulting in attractive rates on airlines and accommodation for the English, who have faced one of the harshest winters in recent times.

The depreciation stands at 21 per cent, affording vacationers an exchange rate of J$125 for one pound, compared with J$103 in January 2009, said the Post Office.

Mid-east dollar fall

Of note is the fact that Jamaica is not the only Caribbean country with an exchange rate that has shifted in favour of the British. The report noted that of the middle-eastern countries, Egypt was down 14 per cent, and Dubai was down 13 per cent, while Antigua and St Lucia were both down 12 per cent.

Jamaica did not necessarily have everything in its favour and, in contrast, the Post Office found that a basket of Jamaican goods cost £79.74 - more expensive than in many European destinations - due to the high inflation rate the country continues to suffer from.

In that survey, Hungary, Thailand and Bulgaria emerged as the three most affordable destinations, with the basket of goods for each country coming in at less than £40.

A challenge

The news comes on the heels of predictions by Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, last month, that he was projecting a five per cent increase in stopover visitors this winter tourist season, over last year's figures.

For the tourism minister, the challenge, he says, is now to make Jamaica's tourism "recession proof" by diversifying the markets it now depends on.

His energies, he said, would be concentrated on bringing in new investments, not only in the accommodations sector, but also in the attractions area, "Since the market is influenced by the experiences which the destination offers".