Director General in the Ministry of Tourism Carole Guntley chats with Ray Hammond at the 4th annual Tourism Outlook Seminar (TOS), held at the Half Moon Conference Center in Montego Bay on Tuesday, April 19, 2011.
Photo by Noel Thompson
Photo by Noel Thompson

Although the winter tourism season ended on April 15, Jamaica received a post-season boost to record the largest single-day total in the history of the industry. By air and sea, 20,000 tourists landed into the country’s arrival ports surging figures above earlier projections and recession-lagged fears to make the mid-week, one day numbers one to celebrate.

On a day the nation’s parliament decided budget for the next fiscal year, the magical number of 20,000 assured the sector that the axe might not fall heavily on their plans for improving the country’s economy.

At the end of the turbulent session, the budget for the tourism sector received an increased budget of three billion Jamaican dollars.

However, that was decision was agreed by both political party representatives before the figures were tallied.

“Wednesday, April 20 was a particularly strong day for Jamaica in terms of visitor arrivals,” Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said. “It was a joy to see all three major cruise ports being active.”

According to official figures, cruise ships docking into the Montego Bay harbor accounted for 6,600 visitors. The newest arrival port in Trelawny, Falmouth registered two ships and a whopping 5,500 passengers. There is where cobbled walkways, horse-drawn carriages and trolleys debuted on March 22 to provide heritage tours to cruise ship visitors.

The established Ocho Rios port tallied 500 in excess of the three thousand usually reported to close the day’s highest total with 3,500 individuals.

“If the trend of high arrivals continue,” Bartlett added, “Jamaica will be hitting new heights by the end of this year and more Jamaicans will see the full impact of this industry in their communities.”

Jamaica is experiencing a 9.6 percent increase in tourist arrivals over last year’s figures, a record for the island and entire Caribbean.

It should also be noted that all ships docked into the Jamaica ports sailed from ports in the United States.

The minister said he would travel to Brazil, Chile and Columbia next month in order to attract visitors from the South American region.

U.N. & JA Share ‘Outlook’ On Tourism

The United Nations and Jamaica hosted a two-day conference in Montego Bay which focused squarely on the current and future direction of tourism throughout the region. Tourism Outlook Seminar (TOS) held for the fourth time on the island featured a joint sponsorship initiative with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism and Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).

Delegates represented Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico, Turks & Caicos Islands, Canada, with speakers from England and the U.S. in discussions of everything from the greening of the region, integration of social media technology, cruise dynamics in the Caribbean to diversifying timeshare investments, maintaining competitiveness and planning for the future of tourism.

The crammed itinerary invited participation of immigration officers, port authority officials, university students, hoteliers, entrepreneurs, bankers, manufacturers, business associates, government officials and a myriad of concerned citizens who rely on the industry.

Taleb Rifa, chairman of the UNWTO delivered a message from its 161 member nations that offers a global forum for tourism policy issues and a source of industry practices stating the challenges and accomplishment of the united force. Along with Carlos Vogeler, director for the Americas, (UNWTO) the tourism experts explained how travel has changed the face of tourism. Vogeler detailed how and why the industry must remain competitive with other regions.

John Lynch, Jamaica’s director of tourism used his island to state a case for creative marketing by introducing a 3-D promotional trailer tagged “see us in a new dimension.” The engaging and delightful travelogue follows the island’s national bird on a day’s journey across a trail of exciting attractions and nature stops.

He reported on a video campaign which aimed at the European market integrated YouTube postings to create a viral internet boom. According to the director, the worldwide web became an integral marketing tool allowing youngsters to post videos of their fathers dancing. None of the entries could be eligible for a stint on Dancing with the Stars, most were off-beat but all were hilarious. Winners were given free trips to Jamaica.

The director also spoke to his board’s decision to invite 25 bloggers on a media tour of the island’s adventure locations.

However, good news for the present and future of tourism throughout the region was delivered exuberantly by tourism minister Bartlett who boasted figures of his island’s success with attracting a majority of the tourists who visit the Caribbean. He said Jamaica is engaged in retooling its approach to tourism.

Bartlett spoke of the BRIC and MIST economies which he said “produce more middle class nationals with desire and capability to see and experience new places.”

Those include Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) and Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey (MIST).

To end the two-day seminar, Trinidad & Tobago’s Paul Keens Douglas provided social commentary, which he related to tourism and the Caribbean.

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