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Kingston, Jamaica: May 29, 2014 – Jamaica’s tourism sector continues to register growth with preliminary figures for the just ended winter tourist season indicating an increase of about 2% in stopover arrivals over the same period in 2013. Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, made this announcement during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament, on Tuesday, May 27, 2014.
In addition to the increase in stop over arrivals, Minister McNeill said the sector was seeing a number of positive industry trends, including an increase in occupancy rates by 9.1% in all categories of properties over the last year. “This is influenced by a number of factors, including longer stays from the stopover visitors, in particular the European market, and more Jamaicans vacationing at home as the industry is more aggressively courting the domestic market,” he stated.
Another positive industry trend is an increase in room rates. “As a matter of fact our largest tour operator to Jamaica has confirmed that our average daily rate is up by some 13 - 15%,” said Minister McNeill. He noted that Jamaica is poised for further growth, “last year, we had a really good summer with growth of 3.6% helped significantly by increased visitor arrivals out of Europe and we are poised for continued growth.”
The Minister also indicated that cruise passenger arrivals are projected to increase to a record 1.4 million passengers this calendar year. The first four months of 2014 have shown an increase of 3.6%, representing an impressive recovery from a decline of 4.2% last year.
Minister McNeill also adds that “we expect cruise arrivals to continue to escalate with the arrival of the largest of Disney’s ships, the Fantasy. This, in addition to MSC’s Divina, will be calling throughout the summer.”
In addition, at year end 2014, three cruise ships, the Louis Crystal, the Aida Bella and the Thomson Dream, will home port in Montego Bay. Minister McNeill emphasized that home porting will create more opportunities for local businesses as these ships will require produce as well as goods and services which can be purchased locally.
“While home porting there the Thomson Dream will also call on the port of Falmouth on the final night of each cruise, allowing Jamaica to get two calls from this cruise ship. This means that cruise passengers will fly into Montego Bay and board the ship there to commence their vacation,” he explained.
The Minister said “the visitors will need to fly into the airport in Montego Bay and this will generate more airlift. In the case of the Thompson Dream, TUI will add four additional flights out of the UK to service this ship.” The Minister added that “the other great possibility is the tremendous opportunity for sail and stay, as historically passengers coming this distance for a cruise, up to 30% of them stay for a stopover vacation in the home port country.”