Stopovers up, but tourist arrivals down in January

Sunday, March 16, 2014

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Some 330,200 tourists visited the island by air and sea in January 2014 or 3.2 per cent less than a year earlier due to fewer cruise ship calls.


The nation's sea ports received 10.6 per cent less cruise passengers at some 161,000 visitors over the period, data indicates. The arrivals were affected by reduced ship calls down some 17 per cent at Montego Bay Pier and Falmouth Pier. Ocho Rios however recorded a 12 per cent rise in ship calls to 18 for the month.


Despite the fall, cruise arrivals are still above levels prior to the 2011 opening of the nation's busiest port in Falmouth.


At the same time, air arrivals totaled some 169,000 which equated to a 4.8 per cent rise year on year, according to JTB data. The largest rise in air arrivals came from Europe up 18.6 per cent to some 19,850. Traditional source markets in Europe are once again on the rise following previous economic uncertainty, data indicates.


"In the Northern European region, the main visitor producing countries, United Kingdom, with 11,870 arrivals, grew by 13.8 per cent and Sweden with 1,566 arrivals grew by 459.3 per cent.


In the South-Western European region, Germany with 2,131 visitor arrivals increased by 21.9 per cent," stated the JTB monthly report.


Growth in Russia has subsided at least in January as it recorded a two per cent dip to 1,320. In recent years chartered flights have opened up Jamaica to increased arrivals from Eastern Europe.


Air arrivals from Canada are up 6.5 per cent to some 50,860. Last year, the Canadian arrivals declined based on the restructuring of two tour operators Sunquest and Transat. This resulted in reduced airlift but these companies have since rebranded and commenced operations.


Air arrivals from the USA increased 0.7 per cent to 87,000 over the period. Half of all air arrivals during the period came from the US, followed by Canada at 30 per cent, seven per cent from the United Kingston, 6.9 per cent from continental Europe, and 2.5 per cent from the Caribbean.


"The average length of stay of Foreign national arrivals in January 2014 was 9.1 nights compared to 8.9 nights in January 2013. The average length of stay in hotels was 7.3 nights in January 2014 compared to 7.2 nights in January 2012," stated the report.


Experts with whom the Observer spoke in January expect tourism arrivals to surpass the three million mark in 2014 which equates to single-digit growth over 2013.


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