With strong growth numbers in tourist arrivals, that are expected to translate into a 17.2 pc growth in tourism receipts in 2023, the debut of Jamaica Product Exchange, JAPEX 2023, the leading travel and tourism industry event of Jamaica was as auspicious as possible.
Marking the beginning of JAPEX 2023 at Montego Bay in Jamaica on Monday, Donovan White, Director of Jamaica Tourism, presented a Destination Report, reflecting a healthy growth across various parametres.
White said that tourist arrivals in Jamaica in 2023 are expected to be over 3.99 million, about 5 pc lower than in 2019, but a growth of 20 pc over the total arrivals in 2022. Of these, the stopovers accounted for 2.8 million, exceeding both 2022 and 2019 figures by 13.6 pc and 5 pc respectively. In terms of cruise passengers, Jamaica is set to receive 1.19 million visitors, which is higher than arrivals in 2022 by 38.9 pc, but lower than 2019 by 23.7 pc.
However, despite fewer tourists than in 2019, Jamaica has registered a strong growth in tourism receipts and the destination is expected to surpass comfortably the total tourist receipts of 2019 this year as Jamaica expects to register USD 4.24 billion in 2023, a healthy 17.2 pc growth over USD 3.64 billion recorded in 2019.
Detailing breakup of visitors to Jamaica, White said that amongst the stopover visitors, the United States market that had recovered smartly already in 2022, is set to grow another 10 pc in 2023, exceeding 2.05 million visitors.
With several airlines launching new flights to Jamaica in 2023, White says that the total seat capacity in fall of 2023 is likely to be 890,000 seats, exceeding the 750,000 seats in 2022 and 2019 by 19 pc.
The improved connectivity is set to translate into a higher footfall and accordingly Jamaica has identified several key markets to be tapped by Jamaica for future growth.
White said that India was one of the focus markets, along with Latin America, while other potential markets included Eastern Europe, Japan and West Africa.
White laid special emphasis on the importance of the Indian market for Jamaica, as Indian travel trade and media are participating for the first time in this event this year. White told the gathering about the importance and the potential of the market. He also introduced TRAC Representations that represents Jamaica Tourist Board in India.
“We have had a representative organisation that has been doing excellent work for us in India and now we are looking to increase our activities with TRAC Representations in India and beyond,’’ White said.
White also said new hotel rooms were being added regularly, with about 8,000 new rooms likely to be ready in 5 years. He said in November a 352-room hotel was expected to open, while the 2,000-room Princess Hotel in Hanover will partly open in February 2024 and at least 1,100 new rooms in other properties that are set to open next year.
White said that as many as 20,000 new rooms would be added to the total hotel inventory in next 10 years at an investment of USD 5 billion.
Robin Russel, president of Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association (JHTA) also addressed the gathering and expressed hope that the overseas buyers present at JAPEX 2023 would find answers to all their questions through JHTA and its members.
In the evening, a colourful and lively welcome reception was held for JAPEX 2023 participants at Chukka Ocean Outpost where the invitees were pleasantly surprised to see Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett singing a welcome song to serenade the invitees. During the evening, various cultural jewels of Jamaica were presented to the guests, with live performances of Reggae and even water ballet set to the Caribbean rhythm.