Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, says he is optimistic of a major turnaround in visitor arrivals and earnings in 2021.
According to the minister, this positive outlook is spurred by an increase in airlift and the expected return of cruise shipping early next year.
“As we look outward to 2021 and based on the level of air seat commitment as well as cruise porting schedule… we are looking in the region of 2.6 million visitors. This is assuming, of course, that our cruise schedule does get started in 2021 and is maintained at the level of forecast that they (cruise operators) have provided to the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ),” he noted.
“That would see us having a huge jump to an 87 per cent increase from 2020. That would be a huge turnaround in performance coming from negative 67 per cent,” he added.
Bartlett said that 2022 is when the country should start climbing back to the pre-COVID-19 numbers, adding that barring the unknown, Jamaica could be back up to around 3.6 million visitors by then, with about US$2.8 billion in earnings.
“That’s what the outlook looks like. I will, however, caveat to say that everything is subjected to our external partners – air seat capacity, which is chief among them and, of course, the restart of the cruise industry. This is critical, especially for the small and medium-sized entities within the tourism space and in terms of driving revenue on the ground,” he said.
He noted that hoteliers are expecting earnings of up to US$762 million for the 2021 winter season.
According to Bartlett the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector over the past eight months “has been very severe”, but noted that “we have been doing a good job in controlling the things we can control”.
“The projections have been looking good, so we have to continue putting our best foot forward and continue to maintain best practices,” he added.