MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – In the face of various challenges, a collaborative approach has been adopted by public and private sector tourism stakeholders to market destination Jamaica moving forward.
The decision comes as the sector recorded a major spike in visitor arrivals for the days leading up to the 4th of July Independence Day celebrations in the US.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett revealed that the island registered a double digit increase in visitor arrivals for the first three days of the month. He outlined that “despite the challenges arrivals are looking good. We really had an excellent weekend. Our latest figures indicate that for the period July 1-3, 2016, Jamaica welcomed a total of 22,524 stopover visitors which represents an increase of 13.2% over the number of visitors recorded for the same period last year, when we welcomed 19,902 stopover visitors.”
The increase in visitors provided some encouragement as tourism interests met to discuss several pressing issues which impact the tourism sector. These include the continued decline in arrivals from the Canadian market; a possible decline in European tourists in the wake of the recent ‘Brexit’ vote and uncertainty in the US market given recent developments surrounding the presidential elections slated for November.
A meeting to explore these and other issues was convened at the Montego Bay Convention Centre yesterday (July 4) with representatives of the Ministry of Tourism, the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association.
During a media briefing following the four-hour interactive session, Minister Bartlett described the gathering as “a proactive response to current developments within our market, as well as local situations, particularly as it relates to destination assurance and the safety and security of our citizens in general and our tourism product in particular.”
He added that the meeting forms part of a series of consultations with partners in the sector “as we navigate the changing elements of the market and put ourselves in a position where we are on the cutting edge and are able to respond quickly to any eventuality within the market place.”
Through him, an assurance was given that “we will be taking a collaborative approach to the marketing of our destination. The JHTA, the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Ministry are united in terms of the need for this new marketing approach and I will be leading a small delegation of representatives from each group to Canada and then to the UK to deal with marketing issues.”
Notwithstanding the uncertainties, Minister Bartlett said indications for the winter tourist season are “reasonably good” but there was a need to shore up the market particularly in Canada. Working with industry partners, a strategy will be implemented in that market at the end of August to cauterize the situation and restore growth.
While the US market is showing growth at this time going into the fall period, fingers are being crossed that this will not be derailed by the US presidential election.