KINGSTON, Jamaica, May 7, CMC – Jamaica has earned more than US $800 million during the first four months of this year as the island recorded nearly 20 per cent increase in visitor arrivals, according preliminary figures released here.
The figures show that the country welcomed a total of 1.34 million visitors, with 739,040 stopover tourists and some 610,358 cruise arrivals. Jamaica also recorded a one per cent increase in stopover arrivals.
This compared to 732,748 stopover arrivals and 392,530 cruise passengers for the similar period in 2011. The increase in arrivals saw Jamaica earning an estimated US$814 million, representing a 4.5 per cent increase in expenditure for the similar period last year.
Tourism Minister Dr. Wykeham McNeill said that he is pleased with the performance of the sector especially in light of the fact that “we faced some serious challenges.”
He noted that the improved performance was achieved even as Jamaica’s main tourist markets, the United States and Canada, experienced “the warmest winter in decades”.
This is in addition to the fact that travel out of Europe has been affected by the recent increase in the Air Passenger Duty, and the ongoing recession, especially in countries like Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.
“It must further be noted that in the first full month of this winter season, January 2012, we were down three per cent over the similar period last year. However, since then we have been able to erase that deficit with two per cent growth in each month for February, March and April,” he added.
McNeil said that a main contributor to the growth in arrivals was the advertising campaign, which was re-launched in late January. There was also the re-opening of Braco, formerly Grand Lido Braco in Trelawny, and DeCameron, formerly Hedonism III, in Runaway Bay, which both added approximately 500 rooms to the inventory.
McNeill said the significant increase in cruise passenger arrivals for the period was chiefly due to the new Falmouth pier in Trelawny.
“Instead of two, we now have three ports. They are all competing ports and Falmouth brings something special to the equation,” he said.
“What we need to look at now is to improve the infrastructure in the other cruise ship ports, and also expand the attractions that they offer to see how we can continue to have these numbers grow,” he added.