Bartlett anticipates strong winter tourist season

Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, addresses journalists during Tuesday's (September 3) Press Conference at the Ministry in New Kingston. (Photo: JIS)

KINGSTON, Jamaica— Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, says data indicates that the island is set to have a strong winter tourist season, with a steady inflow of tourists, which should enable the destination to end 2021 with an excellent showing of 1.6 million visitors and over US$2 billion in earnings. 

“I am delighted to announce that our research shows that Jamaica will have a strong and lucrative winter tourist season. I am extremely grateful that despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, our tourism industry is showing rapid signs of recovery. Hotels and attractions have reopened, most of our tourism workers are back on the job, and visitor arrivals continue to surge,” said Minister Bartlett.  

The season, which begins on December 15, should see similar occupancy levels to 2019 – before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the island– with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) projecting an average of 65 per cent occupancy in hotels across the island. Based on recent data, the demand for Jamaica is also 38 per cent of 2019, against the world demand of 24 per cent. 

According to data secured via GDS – the platform travel agents use to book travel – Jamaica is currently at 61 per cent of 2019 levels compared to 28 per cent globally, for international air passengers. 

“This turnaround would not be possible without the united approach taken by our committed tourism stakeholders, both within the public and private sectors, who have worked tirelessly to get tourism back on track. I wish to express my sincere appreciation to our dedicated frontline workers, hoteliers, ground transportation providers, craft vendors, attractions and airport workers, and the many others who have contributed to tourism’s recovery,” said the Minister.  

Bartlett also disclosed that his ministry is focused on harnessing tourism’s full potential to advance Jamaica’s economic recovery by reimagining the industry using the Tourism Blue Ocean Strategy as a guide. 

“Our approach to shift our focus away from head-on competition and instead redraw industry boundaries and operate within that new space will help us to meet our growth targets of five million visitors, five billion dollars in earnings and five thousand new rooms by 2025,” he said.  

“We are redefining the industry around products and interactive experiences. In addition to making music a more prominent and inclusive part of the visitor experience, we are creating programs to get more visitors out of hotels to enjoy community-based experiences. We are strengthening the links between tourism and other productive sectors and extending the benefits of tourism to communities across the island. This will allow more Jamaicans to benefit from tourism,” he added.  

Several major investments in the tourism product will further fuel the sector’s recovery. “New and existing investors are set to spend close to US$2 billion over the next two years, which will result in the addition of 7,500 new rooms and more than 20,000 full-time and part-time jobs,” the Minister outlined.

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