Visitor arrivals continue to increase in Jamaica

Kingston, Jamaica – Despite the many challenges faced by the tourism sector, statistics have shown that Jamaica continues to see an increase in visitor arrivals and is still the destination of choice for cruise ship passengers to the Caribbean, said Paul Pennicook, Director of Tourism.

According to Mr. Pennicook, a total of 913,367 persons vacationed in Jamaica from January to July of this year, compared to 742,338 for the same period of 2004, which reflected a 1.2 per cent increase.

Mr. Pennicook said he believed that tourist arrivals could be increased even further through programs such as Freestay Jamaica, which was a concept being used to entice cruise ship passengers, who visit the Caribbean, to return for land-based vacations.

He pointed out that cumulatively, 681,259 cruise passengers visited Jamaica from January to July this year and that the Freestay program provided the opportunity to increase the figure even further.

“The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) fully endorses the Freestay Jamaica Initiative as we continue to commit ourselves to ensuring that Jamaica remains the destination of choice,” he stated.

The Director of Tourism further pointed out that recently, Unique Jamaica, a consortium of tourism interests partnered with the JTB to launch three ‘Ultimate Tour’ vacation packages at the premiere of the Travel Channel film, ‘Jamaica: The Ultimate Tour’.

He also pointed out that the special, which was televised on the Travel Channel recently, showcased various attractions and the cultural elements of Jamaica as seen through the eyes of Prime Minister P. J. Patterson. The Prime Minister was the personal guide for renowned travel journalist, Peter Greenberg, as they toured various sites around the island.

The Ultimate Tour vacation packages and the Freestay Caribbean Jamaica program are two of the latest initiatives that the industry will undertake to ensure that the tourism product remains viable and attractive.

Ultimate Tour vacation will offer three packages; a signature package, which features an eight-day/seven night excursion; Essence 1 which is a five-day/four-night option, while the third choice, which is the Essence 11, is a six-night/five-day excursion.

Each package, Mr. Pennicook explained, would feature overnight stays at luxurious resorts and activities include kayaking along the rugged coast of Negril, sampling of the finest jerk cuisine, hiking through the Blue Mountains, rafting on the Rio Grande and a rainforest canopy tour at Chukka Cove.

“We in the industry are aware that Jamaica must continue to diversify its offerings and to improve on its tourism product to stay competitive. It is my belief that if we continue to let this be our focus, then we would be able to entice not only cruise ship passengers to participate in the Freestay program, but certainly, other vacationers would come to see that their best option is our little island Jamaica,” he stated.

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