It was another record-breaking year for the tourism industry.
Visitor Arrivals and Earnings
• Arrival figures indicate that the island welcomed just over 4.3 million visitors, a 5.3 per cent increase over the 4,300,241 tourists who came in 2017.
• The industry generated gross earnings of some US$3.3 billion, a nine per cent increase over the 2017 figure of US$3 billion.
Increased Airline Seats
• An additional 99,455 airline seats were negotiated for the 2018/19 winter tourist season, comprising expanded traditional seats and a build out of new ones.
• These include 38,000 out of the United States of America (USA), 42,000 out of Canada, 12,000 from Continental Europe, and 7,455 out of the United Kingdom and Northern Europe.
Expansion in number of seats resulted, in part, from several new flights to Jamaica. These included:
• Eurowings, Pegas Fly and Nordwind out of Eastern Europe; Canadian airlines – WestJet, Swoop and Sunwing, and US-based Frontier Airlines.
• Additionally, Copa Airlines increased its flights to daily service from Panama City, while the Latam Airlines Group announced non-stop direct flights from Peru, beginning in July 2019.
Cruise Ship Arrivals
Jamaica’s ports received inaugural calls from the following cruise lines: Murella Cruise, Carnival Horizon, and MS Sirena.
• Jamaica and Russia signed a reciprocal agreement, waiving visa requirements for nationals entering both countries. The agreement allows Jamaicans and Russians to spend up to 90 days per year for tourism, cultural exchange or business.
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
• Jamaica and Mexico signed a MoU, formalising a multi-destination marketing arrangement to create ease of travel between both countries and increase visitor arrivals.
Tourism Resilience Summit
• The Government hosted the inaugural Tourism Resilience Summit of the Americas, which featured local, regional and global stakeholder discussions on wide-ranging disruptive industry challenges, including climate change and cybercrime.
Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre
• The first Board of Governors meeting for the Centre, which had a soft launch, took place in London.
Tourism Working Group
• This group, led by Price – water house Cooper’s partner, Wilfred Baghaloo, was established to review a range of issues within the sector, related to entertainment, ground transportation, and work permits.
Jamaica Centre for Tourism Innovation (JCTI)
• The Ministry provided $100 million, in a collaborative effort with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, to launch the Hospitality and Tourism Management Programme in high schools.
• This is the first certification programme for students to gain tourism entry-level qualification. It was rolled out in 32 institutions to 650 students islandwide.
• Additionally, about 450 tourism workers and 65 tutors graduated from the JCTI’s training programme.