Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism: Country Off to Great Start in '09


Jamaica's Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett

Travel Agent was part of a small group of media invited to a Jamaica Tourist Board luncheon Monday, where Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said all is good in Jamaica so far.

Bartlett pointed to a 3 percent increase in arrivals to date from this time last year and says the island is still on track for a 4 percent total increase. He attributed the country’s increasing airlift and valued deals as main reasons for success. Namely, Jamaica’s recent deal with JetBlue Airways for daily nonstop service from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport has received a lot of positive feedback. The flights are slated to launch in late May and the tourist board has also reached a contract with JetBlue’s in-house tour operator, JetBlue Getaways.

Bartlett also addressed the upcoming sale of Air Jamaica. Although he couldn’t tell us the details about the three suitors looking to purchase the carrier by March 31, he did stress how valuable Air Jamaica would continue to be to the country, noting the carrier will still make up about one-third of the country’s total arrivals.

All ongoing developments remain on schedule, except for two— which were both put on hold way for reasons other than the U.S financial crisis. Bartlett also addressed the possibility of Cuba becoming an option for U.S. travelers.

“The more countries that are added is better for us,” Bartlett says, noting that Cuba is still al ong way from welcoming U.S. tourists. Even when restrictions get lifted from the U.S, “There are still a lot of renovations refurbishments that need to be made to accommodate U.S. travelers,” Bartlett says.

Lastly, Bartlett reminded journalists of the upcoming Jamaica Annual Product Exchange (JAPEX), which will take place at the Ritz-Carlton, Montego Bay from May 11-14.

Visit www.visitjamaica.com.