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Increase in cruise tourism for Jamaica after Irma

Sunday, November 19, 2017

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Diversions from hurricane-ravaged Caribbean islands have caused Jamaica to record an increase of 66.3 per cent in cruise passenger arrivals for the month ending October 2017, according to latest data from the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).

Data from the quarter ending September 2017 also revealed that despite the temporary closure of Jamaica's airspace during September, all categories of visitors to the island increased, partly due to the diversion of passengers.

The Ocho Rios Cruise Port Terminal recorded the highest increase of 53.2 per cent to 103,028 passengers; while Montego Bay and Falmouth reflected increases of 33.7 per cent to 94,070 passengers, and 15.5 per cent to 154,561 passengers, respectively.

Overall, the island saw an increase of 28.5 per cent in cruise passenger arrivals for the three-month period July to September.

The surge in passenger arrivals also helped to prevent Jamaica from falling into a recession, after main growth producers — agriculture, forestry, fishing, and the mining and quarrying industries — were estimated to have remained flat, recording a contraction of 8.6 per cent, respectively.

Growth for the quarter totalled 0.9 per cent and was mainly driven by the hotels and restaurants, manufacture and electricity and water supply industries.

The minuscule growth has caused the PIOJ to downgrade projections for growth of up to 3.0 per cent for the fiscal year 2017/2018. Growth for the fiscal year is now estimated between 2.0 to 2.5 per cent.

In August, the PIOJ had predicted a strengthening in the pace of growth resulting in a fiscal year outturn within the range of two to three per cent, driven by the resumption of productive activity at the Alpart alumina plant. Growth from the mining and quarrying industries was forecast to reach 20 per cent for the fiscal year 2017/18.

“The downward revision mainly reflects the impact of the shock to agriculture, as well as the relatively later start-up of the Alpart refinery,” PIOJ Director James Stewart said in responding to questions from the Jamaica Observer.

In addition to the late start-up of the refinery, PIOJ reported lower production of alumina which outweighed increases in the production of crude bauxite. Alumina production decreased by 11.4 per cent and reflected lower production at Jamalco, down 13.3 per cent, and at Windalco, down 7.6 per cent.

“This was caused by technical problems at both plants. There was a decrease of 5.7 percentage points in the average capacity utilisation rate to 44.3 per cent. This increase in crude bauxite production of 9.5 per cent was reflected in a higher bauxite capacity utilisation rate by 7.1 percentage points to 67.1 per cent,” said Director General Wayne Henry.

Previously, the PIOJ had anticipated as much as 40 per cent outturn for mining and quarrying industries.

Real value added for the hotels and restaurants industry was estimated to have increased by 5.5 per cent. It reflected a 10.7 per cent growth in stopover arrivals – mainly more visitors from the USA, up 10 per cent; Canada, up 8.6 per cent; and Europe, up 22.3 per cent.

Total visitor expenditure grew by 13.1 per cent to US$694 million. For the nine months ending September 2017, GDP performance increased by 0.3 per cent, with the largest performers being hotels and restaurants, up 3.8 per cent; manufacturing, up 1.8 per cent; electricity, up 1.2 per cent, and construction, up 1.0 per cent.

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