Tourism earnings up despite state of emergency

Revenue growth outpacing arrivals

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 08, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY — Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett is excited over record growth in tourism earnings and arrivals in the first half of the year in spite of the imposition of a state of emergency in St James since January.

“To come out of a state of emergency and grow in the way that we have is phenomenal achievement for any country and I am proud to be Minister of Tourism today,” Tourism Minister Bartlett said.

For the period January to June 2018, Jamaica recorded more than 1,253,236 million in stopover arrivals and 1,025,782 in cruise arrivals. This means over 100,000 more tourists for the period.

Over the same period the sector brought in US$1.556 billion in foreign exchange earnings which represents an increase of 7.3 per cent. Stopover arrivals accounted for US$1.459 million in earnings up 7.2 per cent and cruise US$100.6 million, an increase of 9.4 per cent.

But Bartlett was particularly elated over the record earnings, arguing that it is outgrowing arrivals.

“In fact, we are more excited about the earnings because that's where the rubber hits the road, so to speak. That over the same period for the first half of the year we earned $1.559 billion (which is) 7.6 per cent increase over last year and that's really phenomenal. We feel excited about it because it is showing us growing ahead of our arrivals,” Bartlett said.

“And that is probably a unique feature for Jamaica because it is the practice in tourism that the arrivals always outpace the growth in revenue. But for Jamaica our revenue is outpacing our growth in arrival.”

Bartlett underscored that the growth in arrivals and earnings have placed the destination firmly on track to achieving and likely surpassing growth targets he set at the beginning of the present administration in 2016, which is to bring 5 million tourists, generate US$5 billion in earnings, increase total direct tourism jobs to 125,000 and add 15,000 new rooms all by 2021.

“That means we are firmly on track to achieve the objectives that we set ourselves when we started our administration to bring 5,000,000 visitors by 2021 and to bring US$5 billion,” Bartlett stated.

Bartlett underscored that the growth in arrivals and earnings have placed the destination on target to achieve the 2020 goal of welcoming five million passengers and earning US$5 billion.

He was speaking at Friday's press conference, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, to announce the sector's performance for the first six months of the year.

In highlighting work done, director of tourism at the Jamaica Tourist Board Donovan White noted that “It has been all hands on deck as teams locally and overseas to spread the message of destination Jamaica's commitment to security and safety. As we ramp up digital marketing strategies among a range of other initiatives we are to improve on these figures.”

During his sectoral debate in May, Bartlett thanked the prime minister and other Cabinet ministers for their support during the challenging period of the enhanced security measures.

“I want to specially thank the prime minister and Cabinet colleagues for their all-hands-on-deck support, including injecting needed resources, during this jittery period in the midst of winter, a time when tourists from the north travel in droves. I also want to specially thank our tourism industry stakeholders for working closely with us,” Bartlett stated during the sectoral debate.


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