Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett has expressed optimism in the growth prospects for the sector stressing that “this is the biggest and best winter season Jamaica has ever had in the history of tourism” adding that the tourism industry was set on a path to continue the boom now being experienced
He said: “For the January to March 2023 period, it is estimated that Jamaica welcomed 1.18 million visitors, which represents growth of 94.4% when compared to the same period in 2022. This represents earnings of US$1.15 billion, 46.4% above the US$786.8 million earned for the same period in 2022.”
In reviewing the performance of the tourism sector as he opened the Sectoral Debate in Parliament yesterday, Minister Bartlett noted that arrivals for 2022 were up by 117% and earnings by 71.4% when compared to 2021. Jamaica welcomed 3.3 million visitors and earned an estimated US$3.7 billion in 2022 and projections for 2024 are for US$4.1 billion in earnings.
He told Parliament that: “If there was ever an industry that has the potential to transform our nation, our communities and the lives and livelihoods of the Jamaican people for the better, it is tourism” adding that real gross domestic product (GDP) for the economy is projected to “grow within the range of 3.0% to 5.0% during January – March 2023 when compared to January – March 2022.” This growth is expected to be led by strong performances by the hotels and restaurants, and the mining and quarrying industries.
Minister Bartlett highlighted that in fiscal year 2023/24 GDP is anticipated to be driven by continued robust performance in stopover arrivals, facilitated by increased room capacity and intensified marketing efforts.
“Never before in the history of Jamaica has tourism made such a great contribution to the national economy and we are willing to contribute to that process and to make even greater contributions,” declared Mr. Bartlett, noting that “Jamaicans at all levels of society can enjoy a bigger slice of the tourism pie.”
Mr. Bartlett outlined that “investments continue to boom to drive the industry’s recovery (and) over the last five years tourism investment contributed 20% of the island’s total foreign direct investments (FDI) and over the next 5 to 10 years, there are multiple upcoming investment projects which will see the addition of 15,000 to 20,000 new rooms with investment of US$4 billion to US$5 billion.”
The Minister said stakeholders had been working together to build a tourism industry that was equitable, viable and which generates opportunities for all. He noted that “tourism will be the biggest driver of economic growth and prosperity in Jamaica for years to come and it is absolutely important that you are made aware of the work that we have been doing over the last year in repositioning the sector to achieve higher growth rates, a better spread of the benefits of tourism to each and every Jamaican and stronger linkages throughout the economic fabric of this beautiful island.”
Jamaica was named the Caribbean’s Leading Destination 2022, for the 16th straight year at last year’s prestigious World Travel Awards. Jamaica also picked up the the award for Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Destination 2022, Caribbean’s Leading Tourist Board 2022, for the 14th year in a row and Caribbean’s Leading Nature Destination 2022.
Other winners on the night included Go Jamaica Travel, Half Moon, S Hotel and Spanish Court hotels, Jamaica Inn, Goldeneye, Rockhouse, Island Car Rentals, Island Routes, VIP Attraction’s Club MoBay, Sangster International Airport, the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Sandals Whitehouse, Sandals Montego Bay, Sandals South Coast, Beaches Negril and Hyatt Ziva.