[KINGSTON, Jamaica] – Just days after Jamaica marked the second anniversary of the confirmation of its first case of the COVID-19 virus, Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett has revealed that the island’s tourist arrivals are returning to 2019 levels.
“The tourism sector is back on track with another record weekend of stopover arrivals. Especially, with close to 35,000 visitors coming through the Sangster and Norman Manley international airports combined. Between Thursday, March 10 and Sunday March 13,” Minister Bartlett explained.
This number tops the combined 30,000 arrivals the previous weekend, with Sangster International accounting for 27,000 visitors.
Destination of Choice
Jamaica continues to be the destination of choice in the Caribbean. Plus, based on projections, Minister Bartlett says “we expect that this March will be the strongest in terms of arrivals since the pandemic disrupted worldwide tourism in 2020 and we expect in excess of 200,000 coming to Jamaica for the month.”
He noted that the tourism sector should begin to rebound at an even faster rate as the Jamaican economy continues to open up. More importantly with the continued relaxation of COVID-19 measures, whilst at the same time maintaining basic health and safety protocols.
Following a brief tour of the Sangster International Airport on Sunday, March 13 to observe passenger flow, Minister Bartlett added: “We are going to have to look at accelerating the expansion, particularly at the arrival end to ensure there are more immigration stations and also that the distribution systems allow for a more seamless passage through the terminal by our visitors.”
Mr. Bartlett says he used Sunday’s visit to have a close look at the infrastructure. In addition to landscaping in terms of preparations being made to enable the environment to reflect the warmth and hospitality that is typical of Destination Jamaica.
Increase in Airlift and Cruise Sector
Meanwhile, the island’s arrival figures are set to surge even further due to added airlift, as American Airlines is to add another route to Jamaica when it inaugurates weekly flights from Austin, Texas to Montego Bay on June 4, flying a 76-seat aircraft on Saturdays.
Regarding the cruise sub-sector, Mr. Bartlett welcomed the return of the Marella Explorer 2 home porting in Montego Bay as of today (Monday, March 14).
He noted that he will be meeting with the cruise officials to ensure that the cycle continues. “After this resumption of homeporting in Montego Bay it will go to Port Royal and will be back on a full cycle of every week, having the Marella coming to Montego Bay for the weekend and moving out to other ports in the Caribbean,” Minister Bartlett outlined.