The Gleaner: KINGSTON, JA – Jamaica remains within the top Caribbean destination among travellers forward booking their vacations, amid the pandemic, according to online search companies.

Mexico led the pack, followed by Bahamas, US Virgin Islands, Aruba, and Jamaica, according to Squaremouth which compares travel insurance policies from every major travel insurance provider in the United States.

The data was compiled from all travel insurance policies purchased through between mid-March to mid-August, for travel planned in 2021.

The pandemic shut down much of the travel market, but preliminary information indicates that Jamaica remains within the top-of-mind for many. The Expedia Group sites revealed that potential travellers increased their searches for Jamaica, up 15 percent in July when compared with the prior month. Across the region, the highest rise in search volumes were the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

Jamaica’s borders were closed for more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourism travel resumed in mid-June, according to the Jamaica Tourist Board, JTB.

July arrivals by plane dipped 85 per cent year on year to just under 42,000 persons, according to JTB data. For the January to July period, arrivals dipped by 63 per cent totalling roughly 623,300 stopovers compared to 1.6 million in 2019.

“We are still learning the true COVID-19 impact on the travel industry. For Expedia Group it was to listen to our travel partners and to build out solutions to address their needs responded,” said Freddy Dominguez, vice president, market management Latin America for Expedia Group, in a release in late August.

“Jamaica was one of the first nations to lift the closure of borders in mid-June and since then it has received around 40,000 tourists, representing almost US$80 million and directly employs 170,000 people. Montego Bay, Jamaica travel searches on Expedia Group sites have increased 15 per cent, also in July,” added Expedia.

Last year, 4.2 million tourists visited Jamaica – 2.68 million by plane and the remaining 1.55 million by cruise ship. Jamaica generated an estimated US$3.6 billion from tourism in the year. Those receipts are projected to slip to less than US$1 billion this year, due to the pandemic.

  • Top Feature Photo: Sangster International Airport, the point through which most visitors enter Jamaica.