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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica; December 11, 2016: The island’s tourism sector has signalled its readiness for what is expected to be the best winter tourist season in the country’s history. With hundreds of additional rooms being brought on stream, a significant increase in air seats out of key markets and an uptick in cruise arrivals, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett is beaming with anticipation.
He outlined that because the sector is doing so well and growing consistently, the concept of the winter tourist season, which runs from December 15 to April 15, will soon have little relevance to tourism in Jamaica. “This year is the last year we’re going to have anything called the ‘start of the winter tourist season,’ we have graduated beyond that,” he told staff at a number of hotels during a pre-season motivational tour on the weekend.
The anticipated end to the seasonality of local tourism is based on the fact that “we will have four million visitors here next year for sure,” Minister Bartlett assured hotel staff. Continuing, he said, “this year we’re going to end up with something like 3.7 million and when you get to four million arrivals next year you can’t talk about winter season and summer season because every day is the season now.”
To rousing applause he further assured staff that for them this meant a greater degree of certainty about their jobs as they would not have to be too concerned about seasonal employment.
The tour included visits to Moon Palace Jamaica Grande in Ocho Rios and stops in Montego Bay where he visited Riu Reggae, Sandals Royal Caribbean’s uniquely created over-water suites and Royal Decameron. All four properties have incorporated levels of innovation that give them unique features that appeal to the expanding tastes of today’s travellers.
“The visitor today is far more informed than ever before and is turning everything that we’ve known on its head. At one time we had a slogan in the market that ‘One you go you know’; with today’s technology we have to switch that around, it has to be now ‘Once you know you go’ because there’s so much that’s out there and such heavy content that is flowing in the social space and people are grabbing it and responding to it,” said the Tourism Minister.
During the tour Minister Bartlett also took note of the extent to which locally grown fruits and vegetables were made available to guests at the hotels and urged that greater efforts be made to infuse more Jamaican produce in meals prepared at local properties. “These are the things that identify and define a destination,” he underscored, adding, “what visitors come for and what really makes them stay is the authenticity of the experience such as our delicious Jamaican food. That is why we are driving the process to have our properties use more local produce through our Tourism Linkages Network.”
As part of the tour, Minister Bartlett and other officials from the Ministry of Tourism and its agencies will also be meeting with workers at the island’s two main international airports and ground transportation operators. The meetings with industry workers, he said, was “to underscore the importance of the human capital in driving the tourism experience and also to motivate them and give them my commitment in terms of what we want to do to assist in building their capacity to deliver more, earn more and to become better partners in the industry.”