Bartlett expecting big bump in earnings as tourism rebound accelerates
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says Jamaica is poised to have a strong winter tourist season, with a steady inflow of visitors enabling the destination to close 2022 with 3.3 million stop-over and cruise visitors and over US$3.7 billion in earnings.
Jamaica’s recovery is within the realm of the top five of all the countries of the Americas and top 20 in the world.
“From our figures for last year, we are looking at [a] 29.6, or roughly, 30 per cent increase in arrivals for winter this year. We are projecting 950,000 visitors [in] stop-over arrivals for the winter season, just shy of 1 million,” Bartlett told tourism workers at the Jamaica Tourist Board Annual Appreciation Breakfast on Thursday at the Sangster International Airport.
The cruise industry, he said, is also on the rebound and is projected to see visitor arrivals triple.
“Last year, we had 146,700 passengers. This winter, we are expecting 524,000 visitors from cruise – a whopping 257 per cent increase,” he said.
“So overall, then, for winter tourist arrivals last year, we had 879,927. And this year, this means for 2023, we are projecting 1.4 7 million visitors for the period, a whopping 67.5 per cent,” Bartlett added.
Jamaica’s winter tourist season kicks off on December 15 each year and ends on April 30 the following year.
Last winter tourist season, Bartlett said, stop-over earnings stood at US$1.08 billion.
“This winter for stop-over visitors we are projecting US$1.4 billion, an increase of 33.4 per cent for earnings. Cruise was a little down, and we earned US$14 million last year; however, we know this winter, we are going to earn US$$51.9 million, another 257 per cent increase,” he stated.
Last year, the tourism minister said, the industry earned total foreign exchange of US$1.094 billion. However, this year, the country expects to earn US$1.49 billion – a 36.3 per cent increase over last year.
“This all goes well for foreign exchange stability and growth. I know the minister of finance will be very happy to hear this and the Bank of Jamaica because the economy is now going to be in a healthy state. We can now look at a first-order increase in earnings in foreign exchange in Jamaica as a result,” Bartlett said.
The tourism industry he said is on track to achieve these projected growth targets.
“These numbers are predicated on the fact that we have secured 1.3 million seats. So it’s 1.3 million seats that are in planes that are flying in for the period, and from that, we are saying we will make 950,000,” he explained.
However, he said that the tourism sector will have to redouble its efforts to streamline its activities to be more efficient to get passengers to come in and move as fast as they possibly can.
“Passengers come to their vacation, and the quickest way to get to the hotel is what they want, and the fastest passage to the airport is what they want,” he argued.
Bartlett also disclosed that his ministry is focused on harnessing tourism’s full potential to advance Jamaica’s economic recovery by reimagining the industry. Several major investments in the tourism product will further fuel the sector’s recovery. New and existing investors are set to spend close to US$2 billion over the next two years, which will result in the addition of 7,500 new rooms and more than 20,000 full-time and part-time jobs.
The approach, he said, is to shift the focus away from head-on competition and instead redraw industry boundaries to meet growth targets of five million visitors, US$5 billion in earnings, and 5,000 new rooms by 2025.