Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has announced new flights out of South America and Russia to Jamaica.
Speaking at a press conference to provide updates on industry developments, at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices on Tuesday (September 3), Mr. Bartlett said those and further expansion in the island’s hotel room stock by more than 1,000 over the next three months, are projected to result in an average eight to nine per cent growth in stopover visitor arrivals.
He added that this should also result in a 10.2 per cent growth in overall revenue generated by tourism for the 2019 calendar year.
Regarding the airlift arrangements, Mr. Bartlett said come December 2, LATAM Airlines will commence service between Lima, Peru and Montego Bay, with three flights per week.
This, he pointed out, will increase the number of flights out of South America to 14, with COPA Airlines currently operating 11 weekly flights between Panama and Jamaica.
“That is good news, especially in light of the fact that the South American market has shown the highest level of growth for this year, so far. I think they are growing somewhere in the region of 22 to 24 per cent,” the Minister told journalists.
Mr. Bartlett further advised that Russian airline Pegas Fly, which currently provides flights to Jamaica using 747 aircraft, will be utilising bigger jets, which will increase the number of passengers travelling to Montego Bay to 500 per trip.
“This [is] exciting news, because it will expand our reach into Continental and Eastern Europe,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Minister advised that rooms being brought back on stream include 790 at Riu Ocho Rios, which reopens in September, while among the new inventory are 500 by the H10 Hotel Group, which will commence operations in November with, “hopefully, another 500 over the next year as they [move] to the 1,000 mark”.
Mr. Bartlett also mentioned the opening of the AC Marriott Hotel, which “will add a significant number of rooms to Kingston”.
Noting that 2019 stopover arrivals, to date, average approximately 9.1 per cent, Mr. Bartlett said it is anticipated that the out-turn for September to December will grow by just over seven per cent to round out the calendar year growth projection of between eight and nine per cent and 10.2 per cent in earnings.
He pointed out that the overall tourism out-turn “is going to continue to be buoyant and will continue to fuel the growth projections for gross domestic product (GDP) out-turns on a quarterly basis”.
Mr. Bartlett said cruise ship visitor arrivals have not grown, consequent on re-arrangements of the itineraries of the western Caribbean, and issues relating to the capacity of some regional port facilities, including Jamaica, to accommodate mega-liners.
“The good news is that the new itinerary that is being [developed], there will be a revived western Caribbean arrangement, which will have Jamaica as the new centre. There are also plans for the expansion of port facilities,” the Minister indicated.
Mr. Bartlett said that while “we are going to see a slight downturn for the rest of this year,” some uptick will begin to emerge in 2020, “as some new vessels are likely to come in as well as larger vessels, particularly for Montego Bay and Ocho Rios”.
“We are moving to build the capacity that the industry requires to withstand whatever disruptions may come to us, firstly by economic recessions, and secondly, by weather, climatic, or seismic events,” Mr. Bartlett added.