Increased demand for the destination has pushed Jamaica’s tourism players to change their forecast, predicting that by the last quarter of 2023 the country will earn $3.6 billion from 4.2 million visitors. This “return to normal” is a full three months earlier than the last forecast that had anticipated these numbers in the first quarter of 2024.
Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) President Clifton Reader provided the revised numbers during a recent Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB)-organised briefing for local and international media. His optimism about the future was shared by Director of Tourism Donovan White who pointed to increased airlift and cruise calls, as well as continued commitment to investing in the tourist industry as indicators of a “strong rebound and a bright outlook”.
According to White, 90 per cent of investments planned before the pandemic are still on-stream with more than a dozen hotel development projects expected to yield an additional 5,000 rooms. They will be filled by visitors brought by a long list of return and new flights from both traditional and non-traditional source markets. In 2022, the tourism director said, there will be almost 10 per cent more airline seats than 2019, widely acknowledge as one of the country’s best years ever.
This will follow what he described as a “blistering summer of arrivals” and a noticeable spike in the first four days of November. These numbers are a long way from the dismal nine per cent average occupancy rates seen when the country first reopened to visitors in June.
The cruise shipping sector is also on the rebound with Ocho Rios and Port Antonio already welcoming calls. On November 14 Falmouth will receive its first cruise ship since the pandemic and calls to Port Royal and Montego Bay will be added later.
Looking even further ahead, White said there are plans to capitalise on the country’s ties to Ian Flemming and the James Bond films. The digital experience of a microsite will be enhanced by visiting locations where the Bond films were shot. With a few taps on a mobile phone, the microsite will provide information about the site being explored in real time.
There are also plans for a Jamaica Lux campaign that will spotlight the country’s luxury product offerings. It will focus on upscale activities, attractions and places to stay. An ad campaign will be complemented by a microsite and an e-magazine. The target launch date is somewhere between the last quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022.