Jamaica Observer: KINGSTON — Jamaica has welcomed more than one million visitors to the island as at the end of May in a sign that Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says shows that the industry continues to rebound rapidly from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Arrival figures from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) signal that the sector is proving its resilience and a return to pre-pandemic performance is on the horizon. At the end of May, we surpassed the one million-visitor mark for this year, and we are well on our way to achieving our 2022 projections of total visitor arrivals of 3.2 million and total revenue of US$3.3 billion,” Bartlett shared.

He was speaking last Wednesday as he closed the 2022/23 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.

He explained that the arrival figures at the end of May included both cruise passengers and stopover arrivals but noted that stopovers were slated to hit the one million mark on Thursday last, with the one millionth passenger arriving at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.

Edmund Bartlett, Tourism Minister – Jamaica

Looking to the future, an upbeat Bartlett said: “If we intend to maintain this positive momentum, if we intend to realize our 2024 projections of 4.5 million visitor arrivals and US$4.7 billion in gross foreign exchange revenues, then we must lay the groundwork for a strong comeback.”

“We are already seeing excellent signs of recovery as the tourism industry continues to drive Jamaica’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery,” the minister added.

Bartlett pointed to the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s (PIOJ) latest economic performance update for January to March which show that the “real value added for hotels and restaurants increased by an estimated 105.7 per cent”.

“The PIOJ also outlined that the industry continues to benefit from increased travel, in light of the relaxation of previously implemented COVID-19 containment measures,” said Bartlett.

And he pointed to preliminary data which revealed that stopover arrivals increased by 230.1 per cent to 475,805 visitors, while cruise passenger arrivals totalled 99,798 when compared to the same period last year. Based on the PIOJ data for January to February 2022, total visitor expenditure increased to US$485.6 million when compared to US$169.2 million in the corresponding period in 2021.

“Laying the groundwork needed to ensure that this kind of robust recovery continues is the idea behind the recent highly successful phase of our global markets blitz where I led a high-level tourism team to the United Kingdom, the United States and then Dubai to explore investment and airlift opportunities and bolster tourism travel to Jamaica,” said Bartlett.

Top Feature Photo: thetravelteam.com