Tourist arrivals from Canada to Jamaica have increased substantially over the last six years.
Arrivals skyrocketed from 105,623 in 2004 to 290,307 in 2009 and the country is well on track to receive 330,000 Canadians this year, an increase of nearly 40,000 from last year.
The significant growth prompted the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) to launch a reward program for Canadian travel agents. Next April, the JTB and tour operator partners will select the top 25 Jamaican sellers in Ontario, Quebec and Western and Atlantic Canada to participate in the “Jamaica Travel Jamboree”, a five-night all-expense paid trip from June 9-14 in Montego Bay.
“Yours have been a partnership with us that is worth more than gold,” Bartlett told agents at a recent event in downtown Toronto to launch the jamboree. “It has resulted in the kind of record performance of the niche market that is unprecedented. In five years, we have doubled the arrivals out of Canada by 110 per cent.
“I think this jamboree has been well thought through and well-crafted. It’s only been done for the Canadian travel agents. I will be there personally to welcome you in June and to ensure that you have a whale of a time.”
The increase in travel between Canada and Jamaica has led to a record number of winter flights – 70 – between the two countries and Bartlett remains optimistic that 500,000 Canadians will be visiting Jamaica annually by 2015.
He said the Palmyra Resort & Spa in Montego Bay which opened recently, offers 200 luxury apartments, penthouses and villas and the Gran Bahia Principe in Runaway Bay will offer an additional 150 rooms in April.
Bartlett also said that the new 50,000-square foot Montego Bay Convention Centre, which will position Jamaica as the premier meeting and convention destination in the Caribbean and the Falmouth cruise port, will be unveiled in January and March respectively.
He said that the port can accommodate the world’s largest cruise liner, the 16-deck Oasis of the Seas, which can accommodate nearly 6,000 passengers.
“The facility will present a range of exciting visitor experiences in and around the port,” added Bartlett.
In addition, casino gaming will be introduced in Jamaica next year and a new dolphin cove in Hanover will soon open to add to the one in Ocho Rios which has been listed on Jamaica’s Junior Stock Exchange.