Jamaica Welcomes Historic four Millionth Visitor

JIS, - Jamaica’s tourism industry marked a historical milestone on Friday, welcoming the four-millionth visitor to the island in a single year.

In tandem with this achievement, the tourism sector is also poised to reach US$3 billion in earnings for the year. Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett led a delegation of tourism officials and stakeholders to greet Jill Bell, who arrived at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. Bell and her husband Stephen, who are from Wisconsin in the United States, were making their 25th trip to the island.

“Four million visitors in a single year is no ordinary feat,” Bartlett said. “The breakdown we have so far is 1.9 million in cruise arrivals and 2.1 million in stopover arrivals. Our projection is that by the end of December we should have 2.3 million in stopover and about 2.1 million in cruise arrivals,” he indicated. “What this also means is that we have 500,000 more visitors than we had last year which is a record and which has also never happened in the history of this country,” he pointed out.

He noted that earnings are hovering near the US$3 billion mark, representing an 11.7 per cent increase over last year. “We are now at US$2.9 billion in revenues as we speak. We also have a retention of 30 per cent, which represents some US$1 billion in circulation throughout the economy . . . that’s a big deal and something which has a lot of trickled-down effect,” he pointed out. Bartlett noted further that arrivals for the winter are up five per cent over last year. “We are no longer into seasons but this is the largest winter cycle we have ever seen. We will be having 100 000 additional seats,” he informed. He said the future of tourism “has never been brighter,” with 4 799 new rooms to come on stream by 2019.

For her part, a very surprised and appreciative Bell, who received prizes from the Ministry, American Airlines and Sandals Resorts International, said Jamaica is now like their second home. She said it is an honour to be the fourmillionth visitor to arrive in the island.

“We keep coming back all these years because of the love that has been shown to us and because of the many friendships we have built over the years,” she noted. “There is really no other place like Jamaica . . . no other place on earth where we can enjoy a drink of sorrel and hang out with some wonderful people. We are indeed very humbled by the reception we have received today,” she said.