Thousands of Tourists Came to Jamaica in First Week of December

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Close to 29,000 tourists came to Jamaica in the first week of December, Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, is reporting.

This, he said, is a 14.9 per cent increase on the figure recorded for the similar period in 2007, and is positive news for the sector, against the background of the global economic downturn.

The Minister was speaking at a Tourism Media Forum, on the issues affecting the local sector, at the Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC), in Kingston, on December 11.

Despite the challenges posed by the global economic fallout, Mr. Bartlett said market figures showed that at the end of October, visitor arrivals to Jamaica were 5.5 per cent ahead of the similar period last year, with November recording “just about” five per cent, and December yielding even higher figures.

“The first week of December is a record.28,903 visitors came to Jamaica, the best figures in five years. December is poised to be a very good month,” the upbeat Minister said.

This upturn, Mr. Bartlett said, is due to the aggressive US$3 million marketing campaign in the overseas market, particularly North America, which is being spearheaded by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB). He explained that Tourism Director, John Lynch, has collaborated with the Ministry’s advertising agency in the United States, Foote, Cone, and Belding (FCB), to “come up with some excellent buys,” utilising a number cable networks. “We have been able to utilise CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and a range of other cable networks,” he said.

Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett (2nd left), responds to a question raised by journalist and moderator, Cliff Hughes (centre), during a Media Forum, focussing on issues affecting Jamaica’s tourism industry, held at the studios of the Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC), in Kingston, on December 11. Others from left are: Director of Tourism, and Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), John Lynch; Executive Director of Jamaica vacations (JAMVAC), Lionel Reid, and journalists, Ian Boyne, and Garfield Burford.

Mr. Lynch, who also spoke at the forum, informed that the JTB has been successful in securing spots on some 30 US channels. He said that the campaign commenced prior to the American Presidential elections in November, but the advertisements were pulled, after it was determined that not much mileage would be gained during the period, given the pre-occupation with the elections, and contemplations over the implications of the results on the global economic downturn. He said they opted to pick up the promotion afterwards.

“We went back and re-bought, and we targeted 30 gross rating points on cable buys, and with the same money, we were able to achieve 60 gross points, because the market is thin, and we were able to buy harder and better,” the Tourism Director said.

Mr. Lynch disclosed that an intense promotion would be embarked on over the next four months.

“Starting in January, we are going to be hammering away, we are doing a multi-radio campaign. We are bringing in 30 stations over a two-eek period to broadcast live from Jamaica,” he informed, adding that private sector stakeholders have indicated that they too, would be embarking on several initiatives to this end. “It’s going to be non-stop work over the next four months,” Mr. Lynch pointed out.

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