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Jamaica is Jumping

December 18, 2006 By: Mark Rogers Travel Agent

New resorts, flights and tourism initiatives

is basking in the glow of good news, impressive development and remarkable
awards. Visitor arrivals were exceptionally high for the first nine months of
2006, posting an increase of 17.2 percent over that period of 2005.

On January 1, 2007, Delta will increase service from Atlanta to Montego Bay
for a total of two daily flights. And beginning January 2, 2007, Ryan
International Airlines
is increasing service from St.
to Montego Bay, to three
flights per week. Travelers must book through Funjet Vacations ( or Worry-Free

Lover's Leap, on the southern coast of Jamaica

The island is in the midst of a slew of tourism projects,
including an $80-million expansion of Norman Manley Airport in Kingston, expected to be
completed by March 2007. The island currently has 23,000 rooms; by March 2007
an additional 2,000 will be added, with a total of 12,000 new rooms becoming
available within the next four years. This winter, Hotel Bahia Principe,
near Pear Tree, will open 700 rooms with the completion of the first of three
phases; when finished, the hotel will total 1,918 rooms. In Montego Bay, the
Spanish chain Riu will open a fourth Jamaica
property, Riu Mahoe Bay.
The Harmony Cove resort will include a combination of luxury resort
hotels with more than 2,000 rooms, as well as spas, golf courses, restaurants
and shops. SuperClubs reopened Breezes Runaway Bay
on December 15 after completing a six-month $20 million renovation that added
15 percent more rooms and suites and included a complete overhaul of existing

is reaching out to the disabled market with the inauguration of a new program
certifying properties as being "Disabled Friendly Hotels." The
program will rate hotels as Platinum, Gold or Silver. Look for the island to
expand on this concept with a "Friendly Cities Program" that will
rate cities according to how disabled-friendly they are.

This spring, Jamaica
will host World Cup Cricket, a tremendously popular event that will
severely tax the island's availability of rooms. In response to this need, the
island has instituted a Host Program in residents' homes. Currently the
program numbers 500 rooms in 160 homes. The tourism board is working closely
with the hosts at these homes to ensure proper standards of service and food
handling are met. Prices will range from $35 to $70 per night. A traditional Jamaican
or international-style breakfast will be included in the price. Guests will
also have the option of negotiating additional meals with the homeowner. An
important aspect of the program is the opportunity it presents for Jamaican
citizens to become involved in tourism.

Last September, at the 13th Annual World Travel Awards, Jamaica won a number of awards, including "Caribbean's Leading Destination." Perhaps the most
interesting award was Jamaica
being named "World's Leading Cruise Destination and the Caribbean's
Leading Cruise Destination (Port Authority of Jamaica)." Considering the
leg up that the cruise industry is getting regarding the Western Hemisphere
Travel Initiative that requires U.S.
citizens to have U.S.
passports when returning from the Caribbean, visits from cruise passengers will
become even more important for the bottom lines of many Caribbean

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