MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Well over one million air seats have been secured to accomodate the influx of tourists who are expected to visit Jamaica during the highly anticipated Winter Tourist Season, which officially starts on Monday, December 15.
A total of 1.2 million seats are proposed for the season, which represents an increase of 15% over the same period in 2013/2014. The USA will see an increase of 58,000 seats and there is an overall increase of approximately 163,000 seats to Jamaica.
Concurrently, the Winter Season is expected to record 611,515 cruise passengers, or a 5.6% increase over last winter. This follows an expected 10% increase in cruise arrivals for 2014. Growth has been recorded in all three main ports in Falmouth, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.
These figures were disclosed by Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr Wykeham McNeill as he gave the keynote address at a luncheon hosted recently by the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry and sponsored by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF). The event was held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre to mark the official start of the Winter Tourist Season.
The Minister also revealed that “this coming winter season will be the strongest season in terms of cruise home-porting that we have ever had, with three cruise ships home-porting in Jamaica. These will be the ‘Thomson Dream’ the ‘AIDAbella’ and the ‘Louis Cristal.’
Dr. McNeill stressed that the tourism sector continues to be a major player in boosting the national economy, with gross foreign exchange earnings of over US$1.7 billion between January to October 2014. This represents an increase of 5.1% over the same period last year.
He outlined that “between January and October, Jamaica welcomed a total of 2.8 million visitors, a 6 percent increase over the same period in 2013. Of these, 1.7 million were stopover visitors and 1.1 million cruise visitors.”
Meanwhile, pointing to continued growth in arrivals, Dr. McNeill underscored that “we are set, once again this year, to top the two million mark for stop-over visitors.”
Minister McNeill said “the successes that we have had are due to the hard work of tourism partners on every front – our marketers and those funding and executing product development; our hoteliers and attraction owners, restauranteurs and every participant in this industry which has to be driven by a spirit of collaboration and inclusion.”