|Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett|
NEW YORK CITY – Travel Agent was on hand on Wednesday afternoon for a media luncheon hosted by the Jamaica Tourist Board, in which Director of Tourism John Lynch and Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett discussed everything from Jamaica’s entrance in the South American market to the latest casinos news and more.
As if that news wasn’t good enough for the destination’s outlook for the remainder of the year, Lynch added that tourism arrivals from January to April of this year are up six-percent compare to the same period last year. To date, 736,000 people have visited Jamaica this year, a new record for the destination, Lynch says. Lynch predicts a total of 3.5 million people to make their way to the destination in 2011.
Lynch said that Jamaica has benefited from a nearly double-digit increase in cruise ship arrivals during the most recent, busy winter season. Lynch says cruise ship tourists surged by 9.6 percent this high season over the same period in 2009-2010, an increase of 34,954 visitors. The high season for Jamaica's tourism sector came to an end on April 15.
|Director of Tourism John Lynch|
As far the long-awaited casino developments in Jamaica go, Bartlett says ground breaking for Jamaica first and second ever casinos is expected by the end of this year or early next year.
In other Jamaica news, veteran hotelier and President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Josef Forstmayr has been appointed to chair a Special Tourism Competitiveness Task Force, which has been charged with finding meaningful and creative solutions to what has been described as significant challenges facing the hospitality sector in Jamaica and the Caribbean in general.
Bartlett says “this task force will address challenges relating to the ground transportation sector, visa approval, information flow, upgrading of the product, and bureaucratic red-tape which affect development.”
The minister explained that he will soon be naming the full complement of the task force and the members will be called on to look at the new and emerging markets, which Jamaica is targeting and create programs exclusively for these visitors who come from diverse cultural backgrounds, and who have new demands and expectations.