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Tourist arrivals jump - Increase in over 12 per cent compared to last year

Published:Sunday | April 4, 2010 | 12:00 AM

At the end of March, weeks before the winter tourist season officially ends in April, Jamaica showed an increase of 12.7 per cent or 20,850 visitors over last year's figures, preliminary airport arrivals revealed.

The record performance in March will enable the 700,000 arrivals targeted for this season, says Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett.

"Already we are over 600,000 since the start of the winter and by the end of April, we expect to meet our target," Bartlett told The Sunday Gleaner yesterday.

He said this record-breaking performance is aug-mented by improved average daily revenue (ADR).

He noted that when he made the original projection, it was on the basis of having one million air seats for the winter.

Bartlett's pronounce-ments have been supported by president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Wayne Cummings, who said that although the occupancy and ADR were up, "On an individual basis, the cost of running business was under severe pressure."

He added that with the quantum leap in terms of the number of new rooms which have come on board in the last three years, it would seem as if the ADR is higher, but admits that because of the increase in rooms, the smaller and medium-size hotels now seem insignificant.

Forced to fight

Small hotelier Axel Wichterich of Marblue in Treasure Beach concurs. His story, like other small operators, is that he is forced to fight to remain competitive in the marketplace, even when the arrival figures are record-breaking.

He said hotels in Port Antonio were forced to do the same. "December and January were OK, March OK, but not the same like 2008 and 2009. We are alone and like I said, we have to fight for any customer-and dumping rates for small hotels is not possible."