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VISITOR ARRIVALS TO JAMAICA UP BY 20 PERCENT!

BY LUKE DOUGLAS—-

VISITOR arrivals to Jamaica increased by almost 20 per cent for the first quarter of 2012, when compared to the same period in 2011. The increase was boosted mainly by a 55 per cent jump in cruise ship passenger arrivals, the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment announced Thursday.

The improvement in the tourism sector is a continuation of the trend from the last quarter of 2011, in which total arrivals grew by 8.7 per cent, although foreign exchange improved marginally by 0.7 per cent.

 

Tourism and Entertainment Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill pointed to increased advertising and improved cruise pier facilities for the growth, and predicted it would continue into the summer, buoyed by the Jamaica 50 celebrations.

“The sector has done well, especially in light of the fact that we faced some serious challenges,” Dr McNeill told a press conference at his ministry in New Kingston. He listed the “warmest winter in decades” in Jamaica’s main markets, the increase in the Air Passenger Duty as well as the recession in Europe as impediments to tourism’s performance.

The growth in visitor arrivals continued for a third consecutive month in April, following a decline in January, based on the ministry’s provisional estimates. The 1,349,398 total visitors was a 19.9 per cent increase over the first quarter of 2011. Cruise passenger arrivals numbered 610,000 for the quarter, up from 392,000 for the same period last year.

The ministry said visitors to the island contributed gross foreign exchange earnings of US$814 million from January to March this year, an increase of 4.5 per cent over the first quarter of 2011.

The opening of the Falmouth Pier contributed significantly to the impressive cruise passenger numbers, Minister McNeill said. “Instead of two, we now have three competing ports, and Falmouth brings something special to the equation,” he said.

At the same time, he admitted that infrastructure improvements were needed in the other resort areas.

Dr McNeill said the tourism ministry will be focusing on the diaspora as well as local markets this summer, with special offers encouraging travel especially for the Jamaica 50 celebrations.

Meanwhile, the minister announced a 17-person Entertainment Advisory Board chaired by Kingsley Cooper of Pulse Investments to, among other things, advise the ministry on the development of an entertainment policy and engage stakeholders in the policy-making process.

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Visitor-arrivals-up-20-per-cent_11402684#ixzz1tzjkYdU0

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