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Jamaica’s tourism revenue up 25%

Jamaica earned $2.1 billion from tourism last year, an increase of 24 percent over 2005, Tourism Minister Aloun Assamba told EFE news wire on Wednesday. The increase in earnings was due to a 15 percent rise in the number of visitors, driven in part by a 17 percent jump in the number of cruise-ship passengers making stops on the Caribbean island.

Jamaica last year welcomed a record 3,015,873 visitors to its shores, marking the first time ever that arrivals topped 3 million in a 12-month period.

Assamba said 2006 was also the first time in Jamaica’s tourism history that more than 1 million visitors came from any one place, citing 1,025,000 arrivals from the United States.

There were also increases in arrivals from Europe, particularly Spain, following the construction of new hotels built by Spanish interests, the newest of which, The Bahai Principe, opened Dec. 15 with 600 rooms and is now running at 90 percent occupancy.

Tourism is second only to remittances - $2.5 billion in 2006 - as a source of revenue for Jamaica.