Jamaica's NIR up by US$100 million
Gross reserves now at US$4.35 billion, including US$930 million due to the IMFWednesday, June 09, 2021
BY DURRANT PATE
JAMAICA's net international reserves (NIR) inched closer to the US$3.5-billion mark having climbed by US$100 million over the one-month period April to May 2021.
At the end of May the NIR was US$3.42 billion, coming from US$3.32 billion at the end of April following a spike of US$300 million in March. This resulted in the NIR reaching US$3.32 billion, coming from US$3.016 billion at the end of February.
Based on the Bank of Jamaica's latest balance sheet, Jamaica's gross reserves at the end of May stood at US$4.35 billion, which includes the US$930 million due to the International Monetary Fund. The increase in May comes at a time when inflows from tourism, which is Jamaica's largest earner of foreign exchange, are at their highest level since the arrival of the novel coronavirus pandemic to Jamaica in March 2020.
Jump in NIR due to tourism recovering
The increase taking place in the NIR also comes as the sector makes rapid strides in recovery, with May having the highest number of overseas visitors since the country reopened its borders to tourists in June last year. Reports from the tourism industry suggest that visitor arrival numbers for June and July will be appreciably better than for May, when the preliminary estimates indicate that stopover arrivals are likely to have reached 120,000, representing the best month since the arrival of COVID-19.
The higher numbers of visitors expected in June and July should add even more foreign currency inflows into the country. Industry experts say more increase is coming given pent-up demands and steeply discounted rates.
The NIR at US$3.42 billion is at the highest sustained levels in the country's history. The net reserves represent an estimated 30.57 weeks of 'Goods & Services' imports for Jamaica.
Positive trend in visitor arrivals
Based on this positive trend in visitor arrivals in the last three months in particular, the expectation is that tourist arrivals for June could reach approximately 65 per cent of the 2019 stopover arrivals of 238,888, with strong prospects for the rest of summer as the numbers rebound closer to 2019 levels. Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, speaking on radio this week, said he is not surprised at the surge.
The tourism minister reported that the surge is expected, given the work done and the infrastructure put in place to get tourism rolling again in Jamaica. Minister Bartlett trumpeted the health and safety protocols which have been tailored to suit the sector, resulting in the inspired confidence of tourists, particularly due to the resilient corridors.
Bartlett explained that the tourism figures will go up even more with the return of cruise shipping in the coming weeks, pointing out that more workers are being brought back into the tourism workforce. According to the tourism minister, as much as 85 per cent of the tourism workforce will be back by the end of the year.
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