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Montego Bay, Thursday, February 5, 2015: Expectations of another record year for Jamaica’s tourism industry have been realized with stopover arrivals, cruise ship arrivals and earnings for 2014 surpassing the historic figures achieved in 2013.
Speaking on Thursday (February 5), at the first Post Cabinet Press Briefing held in Western Jamaica at the Office of the Prime Minister - West, in Montego Bay, Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill disclosed the final figures for 2014. “The tourism sector continues to experience steady growth; Jamaica achieved another major milestone in 2014 again welcoming over two million stopover visitors,” he said.
For the 12-month period, January to December 2014, there were 2,080,181 stopover visitors, representing an increase of 71,772 tourists or a 3.6 percent increase over 2013. Concurrently, the island welcomed 1,423,797 cruise visitors, an increase of 158,529 or 12.5 percent more than in 2013.
Dr. McNeill said a total of 3,503,978 visitors graced the shores of Jamaica in 2014, generating gross foreign exchange earnings in excess of US$2.2 billion, which is 5.8 percent more than the amount earned in 2013. “So that the important point that we should be taking from that is that while we are growing consistently in terms of our arrivals, our growth in earnings is outpacing that growth in arrivals,” said Minister McNeill.
The year-round figures were boosted by record figures for December in both stopover and cruise arrivals. Dr. McNeill disclosed that, “we had a very strong December with an increase in stopover visitors of 5.9 percent over the same period in 2013 with 213,129 arrivals and cruise arrivals also increased by 12.6 percent.”
In a breakdown of arrivals from Jamaica’s major markets, Minister McNeill disclosed that stopover arrivals out of Europe grew by 10.7 percent, out of Canada by 5.2 percent and from the US by 2 percent. Inflow from Asia saw the largest increase of 9.2 percent.
Meanwhile, all the main cruise ports registered an increase in arrivals for 2014. Falmouth was up 19.5 percent with 125,829 more visitors than in 2013, while Ocho Rios had an increase of 7.7 percent or 29,214 additional passengers and Montego Bay increased by 0.9 percent with 2,127 more cruise visitors.
As a tourist destination, the island broke the two million stopover visitor arrivals barrier for the first time in 2013. Having topped that mark for 2014, the sector is now looking to further increases in 2015.