With the 2016/2017 winter tourist season set to get underway on December 15, Jamaica’s Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook is anticipating positive growth this winter and beyond. Following a strong spring and summer this year, the Tourism Director remains quite upbeat that this trend will continue through next year.
“We’re coming off a very strong winter last year and this coming winter we have almost 2,000 more rooms in our accommodation stock, plus an additional 4,000 airline seats from the United States,” said Pennicook. “So with additional room inventory, increased air seats and with a robust advertising and public relations program in place, we are looking forward to a positive winter season.”
According to statistics from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), for the January-October period this year the island recorded over 1.7 million stopover arrivals, an increase of 2.4 percent. With regard to cruise passenger arrivals for the same January-October period, the destination welcomed over 1.3 million arrivals at three major ports, an increase of 9.1 percent.
As the 2016 calendar year draws to a close, the Tourism Director is looking forward to 2017 with optimism and is projecting continued growth for the island’s tourist industry. “Our overall growth projection for 2017 is over 6 percent in total visitor arrivals over 2016, so we’re looking in the region of 2.3 million stopover arrivals and 1.8 million cruise passengers,” stated Mr. Pennicook.
Major Developments in Jamaica’s Hotel Sector
During the past year, the island’s hotel sector has witnessed a significant boost in its room stock with a number of new developments. In November 2016, the 228 all-suites Royalton Blue Waters in Trelawny officially opened its doors. Also in November, the 454-room adults only RIU Reggae opened, making it the third property in Montego Bay by the Spanish chain.
Royal Decameron’s new 142-room hotel on Cornwall Beach is completed and opened on December 1, while AM Resorts’ 150-room Breathless Montego Bay Resort & Spa is nearing completion and set to open on December 15.
Early winter, the Negril resort area will receive a boost to its inventory with the addition of 600 rooms at The Hideaway at Royalton and Royalton Negril Resort & Spa, while Azul 7 Beach Resort will increase its room count by 150.
For summer 2017, Spanish Court will make its debut in the leisure market with the opening of the 120-room Spanish Court Montego Bay, formerly known as Breezes Montego Bay.
Growth Forecast for 2017
The global tourist industry has not been without its challenges this past year; however, the destination continues to hold its own in a very competitive environment. The Tourism Director attributes this buoyancy to the strength of the Jamaican brand. “As a vacation destination, Jamaica has so much to offer due in large measure to the diversity of our product. In addition to our beautiful beaches, our rivers and mountains, there is our tantalizing culinary offerings and our world renowned music, plus the culturally rich experiences which today’s travelers seek and of course the warm and hospitable Jamaican people,” noted the Mr. Pennicook. “Our amazing athletes have also been great ambassadors and we laud them for their invaluable contribution in promoting the brand and by extension Destination Jamaica”.