Visitor count to Jamaica up

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The final figures for January indicate that total visitor arrivals by cruise ship and airline combined is up by 3.2 per cent over the similar period last year.

“The preliminary figures showed that we would have seen a decline, but when our Research and Market Intelligence Unit at the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) cross-checked, we realized that we are up,” Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Aloun Assamba has reported.

She made this disclosure at the launch of ‘Irish-fest’ by the Sunset Grande Resort and Spa, at the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston on February 20.
“What may have been misunderstood is the fact that stopover arrivals went down by less than one per cent and remember that we count both stop over as well as cruise arrivals,” Minister Assamba informed.

Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Aloun Ndombet Assamba shares in a light moment with Ambassador Courtney Walsh (left) and Ian Kerr, Managing Director of the Sunset Jamaica Grande.

Elaborating, she acknowledged that there was a marginal decline of 0.7 per cent in stop over arrivals when compared to last year January, adding that the island welcomed exactly 130,695 visitors in that period, but had 124,756 visitors this year January.

However, she argued that while these figures reflected a decline, when added to stop over figures with arrivals via cruise ship, which had increased significantly, it reflected an overall increase in the numbers for January.

“When we make generalizations that the figures are trending down, we have to bear in mind that 2006 was an exceptional year for several reasons, some of which have changed,” she pointed out.

Among them are a revitalized Cancun, a popular resort area in Mexico, which was ravaged by a hurricane in 2005; and the implementation of the US passport initiative, which requires visitors to hold passports when traveling to the Caribbean.
In addition, winter came later than usual. “We are used to having winter earlier. Depending on how cold it is, people make their decision on when to travel, so we did not really start to ramp up with visitors coming in until later, because it was so warm, they did not have to leave the cold,” Minister Assamba explained.

“These are all factors that pose challenges for the industry in the early part of this year, but I have no doubt, at all, with all the efforts that we have been making with our partners and hoteliers in Jamaica, [that the sector will pull through],” the Minister said.

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