The 2018 festive period (defined as 21-24 December) saw record numbers of tourists visiting Jamaica, according to the country’s minister for tourism. Edmund Bartlett cited data suggesting that preliminary airport arrivals increased by 12.8 per cent compared with the equivalent period in 2017, with 34,081 recorded. Estimated gross earnings from the period were around US$51 million, an improvement of 17.1 per cent compared with the previous year.
Bartlett welcomed the ‘excellent news’, saying that it demonstrated the strength of Jamaica’s tourism offering. “We expected a record season,” he said, “and the numbers highlight this fact. Arrivals from our source markets have been growing apace and we have been strategically engaging new and emerging markets to add to this growth.”
The increased numbers were driven in large part by the addition of thousands of extra airline seats into Jamaica from North America, Canada, the UK and Northern Europe. New flights from Eastern European airlines such as Nordwind, Pegas Fly and Eurowings began landing at Sangster International Airport east of Montego Bay, as did Canadian airlines Sunwing, Swoop and Westjet. Copa Airlines, meanwhile, upped its services between Panama City and Montego Bay to daily.
“Airlift remains a key strategy in achieving our growth targets of five million visitors and $5 billion by 2021,” said Bartlett, “and the numbers show that we are well on our way to meeting these targets.”