The Caribbean’s tourist leaders have a golden opportunity to become creators of a new tourism architecture that will drive tourism in the region.
That was a key message to emerge from the third Annual Tourism Outlook Seminar, held at the Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, said if the region is to survive in the fiercely-competitive global environment, it must grasp new markets, new technology, new investment, new partnerships and new communications processes.
The theme of this year’s seminar which is being co-sponsored by the UNWTO is Challenges, Changes & Opportunities in Tourism - Rising Above the Current Global Economic Landscape.
According to Minister Bartlett, despite the challenges “We are here, we are surviving and some are growing. I believe that if we are serious about growth, we can achieve it, even in a recession. For example here in Jamaica, even though our key U.S. and U.K. markets had economic challenges, we experienced an increase in arrivals in 2009 - proving that growth is possible even in a recessionary period,” noted Bartlett.
Jamaica experienced a 3.6 percent increase in tourist arrivals from January to December 2009, compared to the same period in 2008, and is off to a buoyant start in 2010, which indicate an increase of 8.4 percent, making it the most successful January ever.
In order to continue the momentum and ride out the impact of the global downturn, Director Lynch revealed that further opportunities for growth will be explored. From capitalizing on the development of the new cruise ship pier in Falmouth to securing additional airlift to service the destination, Jamaica will continue to build on its strengths while remaining responsive to changes in order to remain competitive in an ever evolving climate.
“Given the current global economic environment, a 3.6 percent growth is a commendable accomplishment for Jamaica,” he said at the Tourism Outlook Seminar.
“In order to achieve this level of growth, we had to devise strategies to weather the challenges of the economic climate and capitalize on opportunities in the industry as they arise. Our successful relationships with our hoteliers, attractions providers, transport providers and others partners also contributed to this favourable result.”
According to Director Lynch, as the global tourist industry continued to grapple with the economic realities, new industry trends identified the need to be proactive and responsive to the evolving economy. Apart from employing strategies to ensure that Jamaica remained visible to consumers and trade, the Jamaica Tourist Board worked to expand the market through connectivity, especially partnerships with US Legacy carriers in an effort to increase airlift to the destination.
JetBlue Airways has just started a Boston to Montego Bay service and will commence service from Orlando to MBJ next week. This follows airline’s inaugural Jamaica service between New York (JFK) and MBJ in May 2009, the airline’s most successful Caribbean launch to date. JetBlue also began service between JFK and Kingston in October 2009.
AirTran Airways is also set to begin serving Montego Bay with new nonstop services from Atlanta, Baltimore and Orlando gateways to Montego Bay on February 11. US Airways introduced nonstop flights from Phoenix to Montego Bay in December 2009, opening up more western gateways to convenient one-stop connectivity to Jamaica.
The third annual Tourism Outlook Seminar serves as a forum for regional and global industry leaders to join their counterparts in Jamaica to discuss a range of key issues relating to travel and tourism.