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Kingston, Jamaica: November 23, 2015 – Jamaica this year recorded the best ever September for stop over arrivals, up 7.0% (114,280 arrivals) when compared to September 2014.
This record September was announced by Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, who was the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Kingston’s weekly luncheon held recently at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston.
Noting that the tourism sector has experience successive years of growth, Minister McNeill said total visitor arrivals were up 5.5% for January to September 2015 over the same period last year. This translates into 38,000 more stopover visitors and 105,000 more cruise ship visitors.
“We have achieved this growth even while a number of properties are closed for room expansion and refurbishing,” said Minister McNeill, noting that Moon Palace was just reopening and other hotels like Grande Lido Negril, Melia Braco and Riu Negril were still out of commission. “If you have 20,000 rooms and 1,000 are out of commission and you are still growing arrivals then you must be doing something right,” said Minister McNeill.
Jamaica has secured some 60,000 new airline seats for the upcoming winter tourist season of which 50,000 will be out of the United States. News flights include Frontier Airlines out of Philadelphia; American Airlines out of Los Angeles and South West Airlines out of Hobby, Houston. In addition, Summer 2016 will see direct flights from Dublin, Ireland, to Montego Bay.
Minister McNeill said there is a move in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment to ensure that the entire island benefits from tourism’s success. “There is so much potential across the island; not just in big hotels but also smaller properties and attractions,” said Minister McNeill, specifically referencing Milk River Hotel and Spa in Clarendon and the Maidstone Museum in Manchester.
Pointing out the importance of using tourism as a tool for social and economic development, the Tourism Minister said “that is what tourism is meant to be. It can’t be seen only as big hotels and people staying on the north coast. It is the extent to which tourism positively impacts the lives of the people of Jamaica.”
Minister McNeill noted that Jamaica is experiencing a wave of investment in the tourism sector as never before with some J$64 billion in investments since 2012. “We have 2500 new rooms being built in Jamaica as we speak. At no time in the history of Jamaica have we had that level of investment in Jamaica. This wave will have a real impact on people in Jamaica and create economic opportunities,” he said.
These new hotel rooms are expected to provide some 10,000 jobs, both direct and indirect. The Tourism Ministry is collaborating with the Ministry of Education and training institutions to ensure that Jamaicans are trained and certified to take advantage of job opportunities arising from these investments.