Tourism — a driver of growth for the economy

10.2 per cent increase in revenues projected for this year, new flights from South America expected

Observer Business Writer

Friday, September 06, 2019

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Officials from the tourism ministry say they are expecting to see increased growth for the sector in the upcoming financial quarters. This, as several additional income-generating strategies, are being put in place to boost revenue streams and further expand the Jamaican market and economy.

Speaking at a recent press briefing to provide an update on the sector, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said that a 10.2 per cent increase in revenues is being projected so as to ensure that tourism out-turn will continue to be buoyant and likewise be able to fuel the growth projections for GDP out-turns on a quarterly basis.

Stopover visits, which Bartlett described as the 'lifeblood of tourism; will be largely responsible for fuelling this growth.

“This is where all the earnings come from and stopover arrivals are expected to move by some 8 to 9 per cent at the end of this year.

“We are expecting that tourism, which led for the first half of the year, in terms of our contributions to GDP value-added, will continue to do so into the third quarter as we are anticipating a stopover arrival increase for the period September- December of close to seven per cent.

“We are now at 9.1 per cent for the year, so far,” the minister said.

Bartlett further outlined that though the cruise ship industry has been experiencing some decline over the last quarters, they are expecting to correct this through the building of a new itinerary.

“The good news is that the new itinerary that has been built is going to perhaps be the most lucrative of all the itineraries that are in the Caribbean.

“It will focus on a revived western Caribbean arrangement which would have Jamaica at the centre by 2022. This western itinerary, to include Falmouth, will be fully functional and it is expected that Falmouth will get up to two million packs per year as a result.”

Bartlett added that the expansion and renovation of other port facilities, such as Port Royal, Port Antonio and Lucea, will all add to an uptick in the industry by early next year.

“Jamaica will be on a path for exponential growth; we are going to see a slight downturn for the rest of this year but will begin to see an uptick by 2020, as some new vessels are likely to come in, as well as larger vessels particularly for Montego Bay and Ocho Rios”, he noted.

In terms of new flights, the minister said that the addition of new gateways to the Jamaican market will also add to the significant increase in revenues that is expected.

“We are expecting new flights to come out of various gateways from the United States, Europe as well as South America. South America is a very exciting prospect as on December 1 we are going to inaugurate the first-ever flight by LATAM [American Airlines of South America], which is connected to almost every single gateway.

“There is also three flights per week from Lima, Peru directly into Montego Bay, which when added to the 11 flights of Copa out of the Panama gateway into Jamaica, bring us to 14 flights per week out of the South American gateways,” the minister declared. This he added, is good news for our markets given that the South American market has shown the highest level of growth for the year so far, growing at a rate of 23-24 per cent with US coming in second.

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