Thu | Feb 2, 2023

200,000 visitors forecast for March – Bartlett

Published:Monday | March 14, 2022 | 12:08 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Jamaica’s tourist industry is on the cusp of pre-pandemic buoyancy and the month of March is leading the recovery with a pre-forecast of 200,000 visitors into the island.

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett made the announcement Sunday afternoon after a tour of Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.

Last weekend was described by Bartlett as a record one, with more than 30,000 visitors flying into Sangster and Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport. Close to 35,000 arrivals are forecast for this Thursday through the weekend, he told The Gleaner.

That positive forecast is expected to put fire on both the Government and MBJ Airports to accelerate the expansion of Sangster, particularly the arrivals area, for a more seamless transfer of travellers.

“I am also looking at the infrastructure and the landscaping and how we are preparing and enabling the environment to reflect the warmth and hospitality that is so typical of Jamaica,” Bartlett said.

This past weekend’s performance translates to an 11 per cent improvement on the previous weekend’s 27,000.

While air is doing well, another ship is expected to dock in Montego Bay on Monday.

TUI’s Mirella II returns to the tourism capital as the first cruise liner to homeport in the city. The ship returned two weeks ago and will operate until the end of April, returning for the full season in October.

“It will then go to Port Royal and then we’ll be back on a full cycle of every week, having Mirella into Montego Bay for the weekend, and then moving out to other ports in the Caribbean,” he disclosed.

Confident of the industry’s recovery, Bartlett acknowledged that many of the island’s hoteliers complain of the difficulty in finding staff.

“Our aim is to strengthen the capacity to deliver on the demand that the industry’s needs,” he said.

“We are looking at thousands of workers that are needed now,” he appealed.

The tourism minister said that the United States and the cruise industry were drawing heavily on the island’s workforce, hinting that there was need for greater emphasis and investment on training and development.

His comments come on the heels of the announcement of the groundbreaking for a 700-room hotel in Falmouth on April 7, in addition to similar projects.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com