Minister McNeill told Parliament that preliminary figures for January to April 7 show a 6.4 per cent increase over 2014. This, he notes, equates to an additional 35,000 visitors for the period which, along with December 2014, constitutes the 2014/15 Winter Tourist Season.
As it relates to cruise ship visitor arrivals, Dr. McNeill said that already for 2015, “we are up 8.5 per cent” over the corresponding period last year. Additionally, he said Jamaica has recorded increases at “all three main ports,” – Montego Bay, Falmouth and Ocho Rios.
Dr. McNeill said the “encouragingly” strong start for the winter season is underpinned by a “robust” 24 per cent increase in stop over visitor arrivals from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, combined with a “healthy” 8.2 per cent increase from the United States of America (USA), which is “our single largest market.”
He said the USA market’s outturn largely results from that economy “doing well,” while experiencing decline in unemployment.
Regarding Jamaica’s other markets, Dr. McNeill noted that challenges are being experienced with Canada, “as their economy has slowed down.”
He pointed out that while Jamaica has enjoyed “phenomenal” growth in arrivals out of that market, “we must realize that some tapering off was expected.”
The Minister noted that the Latin American market also tapered off, particularly over the summer months, “predictably” declining during the course of the FIFA Football World Cup, in Brazil.
“However, we continue to diversify our source markets. Of note, the Scandinavian market is performing spectacularly well. In just two months, January and February of this year, we had over 6,000 arrivals…which is more than we got out of the Russian market at the height of their growth,” he added.
Jamaica welcomed some 3.5 million visitors during the 2014 calendar year, representing a seven per cent increase over the previous year. Of this number, 2.08 million were stopover arrivals, while 1.42 million were cruise arrivals.
“Importantly, for stopover arrivals, our three main source markets – the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom – all saw increases,” Dr. McNeill pointed out, while adding that “we are expecting to finish the 2014/15 Winter (season) with strong growth, overall.”
Dr. McNeill said going forward, despite the fact that a number of the larger properties will be temporarily closed to do major refurbishing, including increasing the room complement, “we anticipate a strong summer.”
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