KINGSTON, Jamaica: Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says Jamaica’s tourism sector has recovered from a downturn that followed the unrest in Western Kingston in May.
Bartlett said that following declines in arrivals during May (when authorities were attempting to capture alleged drug trafficker Christopher “Dudus” Coke, now awaiting trial in the U.S.) and June, the figures for July and August showed that they were both record months. He added that the figure for the first five days in September is positive, showing a 10 per cent increase.
“I am proud of the work that the industry partners and my team in the Ministry, including the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), have done to cauterize this fallout and put us back on a growth path in record time,” said Bartlett.
Bartlett indicated the positive news was a pleasant surprise.
“When our public relations and marketing team came back to us indicating how the market was responding to the incidents in Jamaica, we really thought it was not going to be possible for us to come back in nine months,” he said. “We projected, in fact, that we would have lost some 10 per cent of our business for the year, which would have brought us into a negative position for the end of the year.”
Bartlett said growth will only be one and a half to two per cent, down from the six per cent growth that was projected at the start of the year.
Loss to the sector, as a result of the unrest has also been revised. It is now expected to be US$150 million less than the US$350 million initially projected.
Bartlett said because the Ministry moved quickly and the government provided additional budget support, Jamaica was able to satisfy the marketplace that the destination was safe.
“We were able to move with alacrity in the market and to pull back much of the lost space that we had. More importantly, we were able to satisfy our partners that Jamaica was on a game changing path and that what we were doing was going to make the destination a safer and better place,” he said.
The recovery program is ongoing as tourism stakeholders prepare for the winter season.