After months of closure following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the tourism sector said it has, to date, raked in over US$5.7 billion in earnings since reopening its borders in June 2020.
According to recent data, over five million tourists have visited the island during the same period stemming from increased stopover and cruise passenger arrivals. This adds to the country's strong recovery, which, up to June of this year, saw arrivals of over 224,000 — 2,000 more than that of the pre-pandemic period.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, speaking on the progress of the sector at the annual Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association's Travel Marketplace event, now underway in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said he is happy that robust recovery continues to take place locally, despite a continuation of pandemic-induced challenges, flight cancellations, and supply chain disruptions.
"These phenomenal earnings and arrival figures are truly a testament to the hard work of my ministry, its public bodies, and our many stakeholders and partners. Through our thought leadership, Jamaica was able to reopen its borders at the height of the pandemic and remain open to allow visitors to travel to the island safely and seamlessly," Bartlett said.
The minister — who is scheduled to participate in discussions around intra-Caribbean air connectivity, multi-destination marketing, and public policies for labour and employment, among other industry business matters during his trip to Puerto Rico — touted tourism as an engine of growth for the local economy.
"Tourism is a key driver in the overall economic recovery for Jamaica, and these numbers augur well for the economy, lives, and livelihoods. To have already earned US$5.7 billion is huge, given the major fallout from the pandemic," he stated.
With the country being among the first to reopen its borders following months of downturn for the industry, innovative approaches, such as the buildout of a resilient corridor, which encompassed a majority of the island's tourism regions, and providing opportunities for a safe destination experience during the pandemic were credited for tourism's success.
According to Director of Tourism Donovan White, the numbers validate the hard work of the local industry and the tourism ministry, returning favourable success from a number of ideas and innovation.
"We will continue our efforts to recover stronger as we work to surpass our 2019 achievements," he said.