Jamaica: Outlook for tourism sector remains positive

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica - With year-to date arrivals figures trending above those recorded in 2013, Jamaica remains on target to again welcome well over two million stopover visitors this year.

Jamaica: Outlook for tourism sector remains positive

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – With year-to date arrivals figures trending above those recorded in 2013, Jamaica remains on target to again welcome well over two million stopover visitors this year.

Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon Dr. Wykeham McNeill, while speaking in Montego Bay today said “despite the harsh global economic environment and the threat of recession in regions such as Europe, things have been going well for our sector. Our arrivals are up by some 4% over last year and we expect to maintain our level of stopovers this year of more than two million visitors.”

The Minister emphasized that “the growth we are seeing is over 2013, which was a record year, when we recorded over two million stopover arrivals and 1.4 million cruise ship visitors, which pushed our total tourist arrivals to around 3.5 million. This is much more than our total population of roughly 2.7 million.” He noted that “this is a very positive sign and is a clear indication that the tourism sector is doing well and is poised for further growth moving forward.”

Dr. McNeill was delivering the keynote address at the opening session of the sixth Tourism Outlook Seminar (TOS), being held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre from November 20-21. The theme of the seminar is “Tourism: Enhancing Social and Economic Impact” and some of the best experts in the industry have been pulled together to take participants through a detailed examination of these two crucial aspects of tourism.

Minister McNeill said “while the tourism industry is being developed as a critical element of the national economy, its social impact must be felt by the people. Our efforts to develop community tourism locally plays a major role in achieving this goal, and we welcome a broader discussion, in this setting, on how we can advance this agenda even further.”

The Tourism Minister also stressed that with the strong dependence on tourism as a pillar of the regional economy, “we must do everything possible to facilitate travel to our respective destinations.”

He listed a number of initiatives being undertaken in collaboration with the Ministry of National Security to make the international airports more customer friendly and emphasized that in addition to monies previously expended, the Tourism Enhancement Fund has committed $200 million over the next five years to facilitate the introduction of new technology and to reengineer operations at immigration.

He also highlighted the partnership being fostered with the entertainment and creative industries as well as steps being taken to protect and develop indigenous craft.

President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Nicola Madden-Greig also spoke of trends that point to “the coming year being the best for tourism” and cited that with some 1.7 visitors recorded up to October, there was good reason to be positive about the 2014/2015 winter tourist season.

Mrs. Madden-Greig said “with the millennial generation now estimated to represent 20% of all travelers, Jamaica needs to ensure it is ready to meet their needs. These travelers seek unique, culturally rich experiences and we have all the assets across our diverse resort areas to answer that call.”

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