KINGSTON: Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, has announced that Jamaica has earned more than US$1 billion from the tourism industry so far this year.
Speaking at the launch of Tourism Awareness Week 2012, Dr. McNeil said the earnings of US$1.7 billion represent a 3.2 per cent over US$1.6 billion generated for the same period in 2011.
He said stopover visitor arrivals also grew this year, increasing by 2.4 per cent between January and October, over the same period in 2011, to stand at 1.7 million.
McNeill said that these figures are evidence of the strides that Jamaica has made in efforts to tap into new markets and expressed optimism that the country is poised for record arrivals next year.
“We anticipate 2013 to be a ground-breaking year for Jamaica, and we will continue to tap new markets for opportunities, while boosting destination marketing efforts in these markets,” he said.
“For the winter tourist season, we will commence an inaugural non-stop flight from Moscow, Russia, starting January 1, 2013 into Montego Bay. We have also confirmed flight service from the Czech Republic, starting December 28. In addition, there will also be non-stop service from Paris, France.
“Out of the United Kingdom, we will add another flight from Gatwick, London that will become a weekly service starting in May 2013; while British Airways will maintain its three flights to Kingston, and Virgin Atlantic Airways, its three flights to Montego Bay,” said McNeill.
The minister said Jamaica is also focusing on Latin America. Discussions with Panama-based COPA Airlines have led to an increase of their weekly flights to Jamaica from four to eight, beginning the 2012 winter season.
“Approximately 1.1 million seats have already secured for the upcoming winter tourist season,” said McNeill. “These visitors will come from our traditional markets, including the United States, Canada and Europe, as well as other markets such as Latin America.”
McNeill said the anticipated tourist arrivals result from a sustained advertising program spearheaded by the Jamaica Tourist Board. He said Jamaica will be participating in upcoming trade and consumer shows, as well as other publicity initiatives to further boost the tourism product.