Arrivals up but revenue down as Jamaica rolls out upgrades
By Gay Nagle Myers
It’s a good news-bad news scenario: In the
midst of a worldwide economic recession,
Jamaica’s tourism arrivals grew about 3%
from January through mid-July compared
with the same period last year.
Jamaica welcomed 1.05 million visitors,
up from 1.02 million visitors, according to
the Ministry of Tourism.
However, tourism revenue for the same
period dropped $70 million, to $1.1 billion.
In the first quarter of 2009, Jamaica,
Cuba and Cancun were the only Caribbean
destinations to post positive numbers during this past winter’s global tourism down-
ism Edmund Bartlett.
To maintain a competitive edge, Bartlett
said, “the industry must routinely review
market trends and develop cutting-edge
market intelligence. The product must be
new and improved because the same old,
same old will no longer fly.”
Product renewal is a top priority for the
minister. More than $5.6 million has been
earmarked for a comprehensive upgrade of
Ocho Rios, Jamaica’s second most-visited
resort city after Montego Bay.
The plan, which includes the design and
creation of entrances, streetscapes and
amenities for both visitors and residents,
is being funded by Jamaica’s Tourism Enhancement Fund. Established in 2005, the
fund’s primary role is to support projects
earmarked by the Tourism Master Plan for
enhancing Jamaica’s image.
than $76,000 has
been spent in collaboration with the
Heritage Trust on
the Rio Nuevo battle
site near Ocho Rios,
scene of a definitive
1658 battle when the
British wrested control of Jamaica from
A visitor arrival center with exhibits and
displays in a museum opened July 18.
In addition, Jamaica’s Urban Development Corp. and the Tourism Product Development Co. will collaborate on the establishment of an Artisan Village in Ocho
Rios, at a cost of about $2.3 million.
Bartlett said approximately $1.2 million
would be spent, in collaboration with the
Airport Authority, to create the country’s
first airport for private jets, near Ocho
“Not only are we talking about improving the aesthetics of Ocho Rios, but we also
are creating opportunities for employment,
crafts and ground transportation and creating opportunities for our tourism partners
to be involved in ensuring that this town is
well developed,” Bartlett said.
Work on the Falmouth cruise port on Jamaica’s north coast, 18 miles east of Montego Bay, should start by the end of August,
according to Bartlett. The pier will be built
first and all accompanying facilities should
be completed by November 2010.
Royal Caribbean’s 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas originally was scheduled to
call in Falmouth in May 2010 but will now
make its first call in December 2010.
Bartlett will tap the Tourism Enhancement Fund for $3.4 million to spruce up
the roadway from Sangster Airport to the
Rose Hall area of Montego Bay with new
landscaping and lighting.
The area encompasses the luxury hotel
strip that includes the Ritz-Carlton, Ibero-star, Half Moon, Sandals Royal Caribbean
and the future convention center.
The project, scheduled for completion by the upcoming winter season, “will
transform the stretch of land into a thing
of beauty that will attract visitors,” Bartlett
turn, thanks in part to a steady stream of
Canadian visitors, according to data from
the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
“While international tourism is not immune to the global economic crunch, it has
performed better than other sectors, such
as real estate, construction and the financial
markets,” said Jamaican Minister of Tour-