Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmond Bartlett, says Jamaica continues to see major growth in tourist arrivals, with stopover and cruise-passenger arrivals standing at approximately 1.3 million for the first quarter of 2018.
The January to March arrivals represent over 80,000 more visitors to the island than the corresponding period of 2017, an increase of 6.6 per cent.
This is a continuation of the record-breaking performance of the sector last year, where total arrivals eclipsed the four-million mark, reaching 4.3 million and foreign exchange earnings of approximately US$3 billion.
Minister Bartlett said that provisional data for the first week of April show a 14.1 per cent increase in stopover visitors over the same period last year.
“No doubt, a large percentage of the 51,384 visitors that graced our shores that week came for the island’s carnival celebrations,” he said.
He was speaking at the launch of the Airbnb Kingston Host Club at Devon House in St. Andrew on Tuesday (April 10).
The Minister hailed the Airbnb concept for helping to grow and diversify the country’s tourism product, by providing accommodation to meet the varied tastes of the increasing number of visitors to the island.
He said the programme is providing opportunities for many Jamaicans to profit from the “very lucrative valued-added market”.
“It is providing real economic benefits to regular people and we can see the sharing economy in action,” he pointed out.
Minister Bartlett noted that Airbnb was responsible for 55,000 persons, who came to Jamaica in 2017, resulting in close to $1 billion paid out to local hosts.
“Airbnb is offering an ideal opportunity to spread benefits from the sector beyond traditional resort areas and into local communities,” he added, noting that this is in keeping with the Government’s thrust to expand the tourism product and create more opportunities to improve the livelihood of Jamaicans.
Airbnb is a respected community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book exceptional accommodations across the globe through various methods, including online platforms.
The host club will help to further strengthen the programme’s presence in Jamaica by empowering hosts with the tools and resources needed to effectively organise. They also present opportunities for hosts to share their experiences, best practices and contributions to the wider community.
Minister Bartlett said the establishment of the club “is a demonstration of the successful relationship” emanating from the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that Jamaica signed with the company two years ago.
He encouraged Airbnb hosts to “leverage this networking opportunity to find out more about Kingston businesses, attractions and experiences that you can then recommend to your guests”.