Jamaica’s tourism sector is on track for record arrivals for the month of October 2022, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.
According to Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett preliminary figures released by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) for the first three weeks of October, show stopover visitor arrivals of 123,514.
This topped figures for the same period in October 2019 by 10,026, when there were 113,488 tourists visiting Jamaica.
Stopover arrivals for the same period in October 2020 stood at 27,849, a significant decline because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but increased to 72,203 for the same three-week period in October 2021, when the sector began to show recovery from the pandemic.
“Overall, 2022 is proving to be a record year for arrivals. Our numbers continue to grow, and October is also shaping up to be another record-breaking month,” Bartlett said in a speech delivered by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Jennifer Griffith.
She was speaking at the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association’s (JHTA) 60th anniversary gala dinner held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa, St James on October 29.
The minister said he expects the figures for October “to be even more impressive when the cruise figures are tallied”.
Bartlett noted that the sector continues to recover at a faster than anticipated pace, which he attributes to the unified approach by players in the industry who have been putting in considerable work to market the destination.
“These figures underscore a unified commitment of all stakeholders to putting our best foot forward and innovating in the marketplace to come out better on the other side of two years of disruption,” he said.
“Due to the pandemic, we had updated our growth target to achieve five million visitors, US$5 billion in earnings and 5,000 new rooms by 2025. Based on our current performance, we are projected to meet these targets ahead of the timeline,” Bartlett added.
However, he pointed out that despite recent successes, even greater unity and collaboration among tourism stakeholders is needed to “innovate and solve complex pandemic-related challenges that are still affecting the tourism sector”.
The minister said these include supply chain disruptions that have not only impacted goods and services, but also human capital.
He congratulated the JHTA on its 60th diamond anniversary, noting that the organisation has played a pivotal role in the successful development of Jamaica’s tourism industry over the years.
During the event, President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Keith Duncan described tourism as an important pillar of Jamaica’s economic development.
He noted that the industry continues to outperform other sectors in the economy and “has been Jamaica’s mainstay over the past three decades, even as our economy faces many challenges and bouts of macro-economic instability”.
“Tourism drives Jamaica’s economy. Economic data shows that tourism is the fastest growing sector in the Jamaican economy. Over a five-year period from 2015 to 2019 tourism grew by an average of 2.6 percent per annum while the rest of the Jamaican economy grew at an average rate of 1.2 percent. Now tourism doubled the rest of the economy,” Duncan said.