Preliminary figures for the 2008 winter tourist season in Jamaica have shown an 8.4 per cent increase in stopover arrivals compared to the same period last year and Director of Tourism Basil Smith said he expected an even greater jump later this year.
For the January to March period, stopover arrivals were 483,959, up from 427,252 in 2007. Mr Smith said he anticipates an overall double digit increase in arrivals.
“February was the most outstanding month when stopover arrivals shot up by 17 per cent,” he said, adding that the overall performance of the sector was due to “a sustained marketing effort on the part of the Jamaica Tourist Board”.
“We have been very active on the Internet for sometime now. We do search engine advertising, which occurs when internet users type certain words like tropical, vacation or holiday and Jamaica pops up at the top of the list,” he explained.
Mr Smith pointed out that the Unites States continued to dominate the stopover arrivals with some 300,609 visitors. Canada and Europe followed with 92,671 and 68,599 visitors, respectively.
He cited Spain as a growing market due to “the marketing being done there to satisfy the need for ‘bodies-in-beds’ in the Spanish-invested hotels here”.
Turning to trends for the rest of the year, Mr Smith said that the expectation was for the level of growth to continue into the spring and summer periods with double digit figures.
“Jamaica can be proud of its performance. It is a result of combined efforts of the workers in the industry, investors, hoteliers and airlines. We distinguish ourselves as a quality destination and if we continue along this path, tourism will make a major contribution to solving many of the development challenges that we have as a nation,” he asserted.
Mr Smith added that by the end of the year, the industry should benefit from an additional 3,000 rooms bringing the count up to approximately 30,000.