By Renese Johnson
It’s been very exciting to see the record-breaking tourism growth that has taken place in Jamaica. According to the Minister of Tourism, Dr Wykeham McNeill, visitation for the first nine months in 2015 has exceeded that of 2014 during the same time period by 5. percent.
Various trends and ventures in 2015 have led to this growth and will likely continue Jamaica’s reputation as one of the few countries in the Caribbean to exceed the two million annual visitor mark. Highlights include:
- Falmouth’s sustained impact on countrywide cruise patronage, with an 11.5% increase in the first five months of 2015 as compared to 2014. This trend is an important highlight as it reflects organic growth to Jamaica’s cruise market and opportunities to convert this visitors to overnight guests.
- Jamaica 60,000 new seats that have been for the 2015/16 winter tourist season. The vast majority will cater to the lucrative U.S. feeder market. Jamaica have also recently signed a deal for direct flights to Dublin, Ireland. This strategic move ties in well to the double-digit growth experienced by European stop-over arrivals in the last year.
- To accommodate these new guests, Jamaica’s hotel pipeline will add approximately 2,600 new rooms this year as a result of upgrading and expansions of existing properties, include the opening of the Moon Palace Jamaica Grande by Palace Resorts.
- Ocean by H10 Hotels and, separately, Karisma Hotel & Resorts (also based in Mexico) have announced development plans for multiple 5-star hotels across the north coast. Combined, they will bring in over $1 billion in foreign investment over the next ten years.
- In October, The first private hospital was opened in St. James. Catering to ‘tourist-interests’ the center is a response to the significant growth in Medical Tourism.
In just these few examples, Jamaica has proven to be a trailblazer this year, promoting itself as a diverse tourist destination. With all that’s in the pipeline, I for one am excited to see how things will play out next year.
Renese Johnson is President/CEO of Vanguard Leisure Consulting.
Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal.