Click here to print page

Tourism officials expect cruise boost

BY HORACE HINES
Staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 02, 2017

MONTEGO BAY, St James — With an unexpected gain of 68 additional cruise calls by year end, more airlifts and increased hotel rooms in the offing, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett projects that the marketing barometer for visitor arrivals is pointing to double-digit growth for Jamaica's tourism sector next year.

The additional vessels were largely diverted to Jamaican shores as a result of recent hurricane damage to other ports.

“For the rest of this year we're expecting a bounce that is going to be huge, especially from cruise. There are about 68 additional calls that we're expecting from cruise alone between now and the end of the year,” Bartlett told an international group of journalists at a recent press briefing at Jewel Grande last week.

Bartlett, who has been leading a push to grow travel not just to Jamaica but also the wider Caribbean, also disclosed that Sunwing Airlines, recognised as Canada's leading leisure airline, will be providing a record 100,000 seats into Jamaica for this winter in anticipation of significant growth in tourist travel.

“We have settled a level of airlift connectivity within our destination that will guarantee the double-digit growth,” the tourism minister stated.

The latest figures for 2017 show that up to September 24, tourist arrivals were up 7.1 per cent on last year, with earnings for the same period ahead by 8.3 per cent.

Meanwhile, the strategic out-turn of adding 15,000 more rooms to the hotel sector in five years is becoming more realistic with plans for new hotels increasing. A list of new properties on the drawing board was outlined by Minister Bartlett at the press briefing.

“We are well on target,” Bartlett stated.

He confirmed that Hard Rock would be coming with 1,000 rooms; H10 with 750; the Chinese with over 2,000 rooms in Mammee Bay; Sugar Cane is on target for 5,000 rooms in Richmond, and Grupo Excellence will complete construction of 350 rooms by March. Grupo Excellence will then move on immediately thereafter to building another 450 rooms by September 2019. In other developments, Royalton has confirmed that it will be expanding further by 1,200 rooms.

Spanish Court West, the former Breezes Montego Bay that has been expanded to twice its original size, will be opened on the resort city's Hip Strip by mid-2018. By then also, the former Wyndham New Kingston hotel will be back in operation and Renfrew Hotel and the new AC Marriott by Sandals will also open in Kingston next year.

Additionally, land space has been identified along Montego Bay's Elegant Corridor, capable of accommodating 1,300 more rooms in close proximity to the recently opened Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa in Rose Hall.

Minister Bartlett also disclosed that direct employment in the island's tourism industry had increased from 94,000 last year to 106,000 so far this year. The ministry's target is for 125,000 to receive direct employment by 2021.

Bartlett reflected satisfaction on the tourism sector.

“Jamaica is on a good path and that we have thought through our strategies based on our vision and our mission. We are presenting a total destination,” Bartlett declared.