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Visitor arrivals up by nine per cent

Published:Thursday | July 4, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Despite a 3.1 per cent decrease in visitor arrivals this past winter, Jamaica is already reporting a rebound of nine per cent in one of its most important source markets - Canada.

This has been bolstered by an unprecedented growth of 10 per cent in the United Kingdom (UK) market over the past two months.

"We have already had growth in stopover arrivals in May (2.3 per cent) and June (3.2 per cent). On a more positive note, figures for May, the first month of the summer, are showing a rebound in the Canadian market (nine per cent), and in May we returned to growth out of the UK for the first time in a long while ( almost 10 per cent)," said Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill during his sectoral presentation in Parliament on Tuesday.

He noted that market research, airlift and forward bookings indicate that the summer was looking good.

His announcements come in the wake of the arrival of the inaugural flight of Air Canada's new leisure carrier, Rouge, at the Norman Manley International Airport on Monday.

"Important, our airlift is up, especially out of Canada, and we have concluded arrangements for additional seats out of the UK and Europe," he stated, adding that Rouge's arrival in Jamaica was historic.

"This was the first flight by the carrier anywhere in the world. They could have gone to any destination, but they chose Jamaica."

McNeill said this spoke volumes about the strong relationship between Jamaica and its Canadian tourism partners. "We are confident that the addition of this innovative new vacation airline will bolster our efforts to boost arrivals out of Canada, which is now our second-biggest source market."

Even as the minister spoke in Parliament, another important carrier, Virgin Atlantic, out of the UK, was signalling its continued commitment to Jamaica.

"Jamaica remains a vital market for Virgin Atlantic. We have increased the capacity on the London/Montego Bay route with an extra frequency of our newly refurbished 747 in summer 2012. We are forecasting growth in both the inbound leisure traveller, and the outbound 'visiting, friends and relatives Jamaicans' travelling to the UK," Virgin's regional head of sales, marketing and communications, Andre Bello, stated in an exclusive statement to The Gleaner on Tuesday.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com