With a record number of tourists having booked their winter vacation in the Caribbean island of Jamaica in the first quarter of 2023, Jamaica expects that its foreign exchange inflows would remain on a growth trajectory, reaching a record level of USD 1.4 billion.
This was announced by Jamaican Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, who said that the projected earnings were based on 1.3 million air seats which have been secured for the period and the full recovery of cruise shipping. Bartlett was speaking at an appreciation breakfast hosted by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) for various categories of workers at Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport.
“This winter is going to be the best winter Jamaica has had with record arrivals for the season projected at this time to be 950,000 for stopovers and 524,000 for cruise. So, that makes it pretty close to 1.5 million visitors for the season, which is the largest number of visitors we have ever had,” Bartlett said, pointing at a full recovery from the Covid-19 fallout.
“For earnings, we are looking at USD 1.4 billion. In fact, closer to USD 1.5 billion and that again is a 36 pc increase on 2019 and significantly higher than the USD 1.094 billion earned last year, which will make 2023 the strongest winter earnings that Jamaica has ever had. This augurs well for the country’s foreign exchange stability and growth as the NIR (net international reserves) is going to be in a healthy state,’’ Bartlett told the gathering.
‘‘We are back to normal and I want to really thank all our stakeholders for the enormous work that they have put into enabling this very strong growth-filled recovery. All of this has happened because you have worked so hard, because you have been so committed that you carried the ball for us during the difficult time,” the Minister told the workers present at the ceremony.
Bartlett adds that he was assured that cruise recovery is definitely on for next year as well as a record in stopover arrivals. “It is going to take us into a 2023 ending that will be way ahead of 2019 so we will be recovering with growth and that is what we mean by saying that we want to recover stronger,” he stated.
Compared to last winter, Bartlett said winter 2022/23 should come out with a 29.6 pc increase in stopover arrivals. Concurrently, with cruise last winter, Jamaica had 146,700 passengers and for this winter the country was expecting a whopping 257 pc increase. ‘‘The overall picture for winter tourist season arrivals is that last year we had 879,927 and this winter 2023 we are projecting 1.47 million visitors for the period, a massive 67.5 pc increase,” he added.
Comparatively, earnings stood at just over USD 1 billion for last year while stopovers only should produce USD 1.4 billion, during the winter period, a 33.4 pc increase. Cruise being down last year due to the pandemic, Jamaica earned only USD14 million but now expects to pull in USD 51.9 million this year, Bartlett added.