Buoyed by significant increases in tourist arrivals and high vaccination rates in key source markets, the local hotels and restaurants sector continued to deliver strong out-turns, increasing 114.7 per cent during the last quarter.
This, according to the latest preliminary estimates from the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and following from its 334.6 per cent increase in the previous April— June period after several quarters of contraction and over $46 billion in lost earnings as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
For the combined six months of April-September, the PIOJ reported that growth from this sector produced outputs of some 187.2 per cent.
After a 6.3 per cent growth in the local economy during July to September, tourism-related activities were said to be the main contributors to the services sector which also expanded by 7.3 per cent over the period. The positive growth from the sector, the PIOJ said largely stemmed from steady increases in stopover arrivals along with the implementation of a resilient corridor. The corridors encompass the majority of the island's tourism regions [the coastline from Negril to Port Antonio (north coast corridor) and from Milk River to Negril (south coast corridor) crafted to provide the opportunity for visitors to enjoy as much of the country's unique offerings at COVID-19-compliant attractions.
Director general of the PIOJ Dr Wayne Henry, during his review of economic performance, said that preliminary estimates for the period have shown total stopover arrivals of some 337,326 visitors, a 293.3 per cent increase. He said that while the increases were still below pre-pandemic levels, the sector has been enjoying robust and meaningful growth.
“Early indications are that the recovery has continued as preliminary airport arrivals for October 2021 indicate growth of 141.5 per cent,” Henry noted.
Over the period, cruise passenger arrivals which resumed visits to the island in August, totalled some 8,379 visitors from five ships between the months of August to September, when compared to none last year. Visitor expenditure was estimated to have also increased by 186.3 per cent to total US$463.4 million during the months of July-August.
At the end of August the country welcomed one million visitors since its reopening in June after a complete shutdown since the virus outbreak in March last year. With an influx of new flights and from increased destinations recently, an upgraded forecast by the industry has also projected earnings of some $3.6 billion expected to come from approximately 4.2 million visitors to visit the island up to 2023.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, speaking at sustainability forum last month, said that based on the enormous macroeconomic impact of the tourism sector in the Caribbean, it has been designated as one of industries in the region, considered 'too big to fail'. Given the sector's direct and indirect link to several other industries, its contributions the minister said was estimated to be about three times that of the world average and considerably higher than that of other regions.
Findings from a recent research done by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) further confirmed the resilience of the regional product, noting that its contribution to GDP is expected to increase by just over 47 per cent this year when compared to 30.7 per cent globally.
“The sector's contribution to the global economy this year will amount to US$1.4 trillion — mainly driven by domestic spending — while the Caribbean can expect a year-on-year increase of nearly US$12 billion, driven by both international and domestic travel spend,” the report indicated.