Mon | Sep 16, 2019

Stopover arrivals fill breach as cruise numbers dip; JTB remains upbeat

Published:Friday | September 13, 2019 | 12:21 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Director of Tourism Donovan White (centre) converses with the president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Omar Robinson (left), and Koen Heitbrink, general manager, AC Hotel Kingston, at the JAPEX Trade Show at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
Director of Tourism Donovan White (centre) converses with the president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Omar Robinson (left), and Koen Heitbrink, general manager, AC Hotel Kingston, at the JAPEX Trade Show at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Director of Tourism Donovan White says that while Jamaica has been having a less-than-stellar year in cruise shipping so far, stopover arrivals have been making up for the shortfall.

Addressing stakeholders and journalists at a Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) media briefing at the Half Moon on Tuesday, White said that the fall-off in cruise shipping was due in part to itinerary changes by the major cruise lines. This, he said, should change in a hurry in 2020.

Cruise shipping arrivals are down 15 per cent, and earnings have dipped 12.1 per cent.

“Discussions are ongoing, and we are confident that this will improve for the coming year,” White noted.

According to him, Jamaica will be welcoming the Royal Caribbean flagship vessel and the world’s largest cruise line – Symphony of the Seas – and its more than 8,000 passengers and crew members in May 2020.

“It will be making some nine calls and bringing in over 72,000 passengers in total,” White said.

In the meantime, the director of tourism noted that as of August 2019, stopover visitors reached 1.87 million, an increase of 9.1 per cent over 2018. The destination, he said, has achieved revenues of US$2.39 billion – a 12 per cent growth in earnings from these visitors.

He added that based on projections, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) is forecasting an uptick in stopover arrivals for September to December of seven per cent or 807,796, which would end the calendar year 2019 with 2.68 million arrivals – an increase of 8.4 per cent over 2018.

“The earnings from the full year of stopover arrivals is estimated at US$3.49 billion – an unprecedented 12 per cent increase over 2018,” White added.

And noting that airlift from the United States continued to grow, White said that in both New York and Detroit, airline giants American and Delta airlines are hedging their bets for growth by opening new direct service from these cities in December 2019.

He further noted that more than 60 per cent of visitors are from the United States, with 40 per cent of them arriving from gateways in the Northeast.

“There is every indication that there is a significant amount of demand for Destination Jamaica in the marketplace,” White added.

For her part, regional director of the JTB, United Kingdom (UK), Elizabeth Fox, said that Jamaica experienced its best July ever this year from her region, owing to a return to television advertising.

A total of 23,312 tourists visited Jamaica from the UK in July, a 16 per cent increase over the last three years.

“Consistency in the market and close relationships with major tour operators have contributed to this type of growth,” said Fox.

She also credits the Jamaica Travel Market ,which started four years ago, as one of the factors behind the success.

Jamaica has also developed a new brand-marketing campaign and is readying for an October 2019 launch.

“We are extremely upbeat about a strong finish to 2019 and a very strong start to 2020. Our committed global team is working tirelessly to provide the best experience for all our visitors,” said White.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com