ON the heels of a ninth-consecutive quarter of economic growth for Jamaica's tourism industry, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says the country is on track to meet its projections of 3.8-million visitors and foreign exchange earnings of US$4.1 billion by the end of the year.
According to Bartlett, the latest tourism figures show that between January and July of this year Jamaica welcomed some 2.47-million visitors. This included 1.72-million stopover visitors and 747,643 cruise visitors, more than twice the number recorded for the corresponding period in 2022, with gross earnings of US$2.59 billion.
"You're looking at a more than 24 per cent increase in gross tourism dollars earned in just those seven months. The economy continues to grow, and tourism continues to play a big role in that. Coming out of the pandemic, tourism has consistently demonstrated its resilience and, as a result, the sector's contribution to the Jamaican economy cannot be overlooked. Now more than ever, we are focused on advancing programmes and policies that ensure this growth trajectory is sustained," said Bartlett as he kicked off engagements in Eastern Europe with a marketing blitz to promote destination Jamaica amid the staging of the 19th World Athletics Championships underway in Budapest, Hungary.
"We met with over 50 tour operators, travel agents, and media representatives at the President's Hotel. We discussed the new way in which Jamaica will engage Central and Eastern European countries, including Poland, Georgia, Serbia, and Bulgaria, among others. The connection, of course, being through Berlin, Germany, via Condor that has a direct route between Montego Bay and Berlin. We are also in discussions with a major private sector player about their plans to operate charter flights between Bulgaria and Jamaica for Winter 2023/24," added Bartlett.
He noted that the traffic between Hungary and Jamaica is currently low but argued that the appetite for travel to Jamaica is strong and he is excited to capitalise on this.
"As Jamaica doubles down on its efforts to increase visitor arrivals, this will provide a unique opportunity to leverage the power of sports tourism to promote Jamaica as an attractive and dynamic travel destination and strengthen the relationship between Jamaica and Europe," said Bartlett.
The tourism minister also highlighted that these engagements are aligned with his ministry's Blue Ocean Strategy, which is targeted at bolstering arrivals from non-traditional markets while encouraging product differentiation locally.
Along the same vein, Bartlett welcomed the recent announcement from the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) that the hotels and restaurants industry grew by nine per cent in the April to June 2023 quarter, with preliminary estimates on foreign national arrivals standing at 705,031 visitors, an increase of 14.2 per cent compared with the corresponding quarter of 2022.