Buoyed by the Jamaican tourism industry’s brisk recovery from the devastating COVID-19 fallout, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett and a team were scheduled to depart the island on Friday on a global marketing tour to boost visitor arrivals.
Based upon current arrival figures, the tourism minister is projecting that “this winter, closing at the end of April, is going to see in excess of a 70 per cent recovery in tourism in Jamaica.
“Inclusive of cruise passengers, Jamaica is looking at just under one million visitors and earnings of about US$1.5 billion,” said Bartlett.
He added that bookings for summer are now looking better than pre-COVID in 2019, “And we’re just hitting the market,” said Bartlett.
The first stop for the tourism ministry’s team will be the United Kingdom over this weekend, where they will be joined by Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, in promoting activities to mark Jamaica’s 60th anniversary of independence.
The tourism promotional team will thereafter move on to New York to stimulate travel from the US North Eastern seaboard, inclusive of New Jersey, Connecticut, extending to Boston.
“And then we leave from there and we hit the new market of the Middle East. We’re meeting with all the mega airlines, including Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, SAL, and we’re going over to Riyadh as well to meet with King Khalid, their big aviation company, which wants to open 225 new gateways, and we want Jamaica to be in that,” stated Bartlett.
He was speaking on Wednesday at the ground-breaking ceremony for the 753-room RIU Aquarelle, which is to be RIU’s seventh hotel in Jamaica.
Paving the way for construction of RIU’s seventh hotel in Jamaica, the RIU Aquarelle to be built in Trelawny, are (from left) RIU’s Vice President of Operations, USA, Jamaica and The Bahamas, Alejandro Sanchez; Chief Executive Officer of RIU Hotels, Carmen Riu; Prime Minister Andrew Holness; Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett; Member of Parliament for Northern Trelawny, Tova Hamilton; and Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Floyd Green.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness lauded RIU Hotels for investing in seven hotels in Jamaica in 21 years, describing it as a remarkable achievement.
He invited the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Carmen Riu, to explore building an eighth hotel on the south-eastern coast, which Jamaica is developing for a different kind of tourism experience.
“Tourism and hospitality have become very important to us here in Jamaica, which, thanks to investments like (that of) the Riu family, our tourism product has become a sought-after destination in the Caribbean region,” expressed Holness.
RIU currently has 3,500 rooms in Jamaica and employs approximately 2,200 workers. During the COVID-19 pandemic-induced shutdown, the RIU Montego Bay and RIU Ocho Rios hotels were refurbished, and all the chain’s hotels in Jamaica have since been updated, with some new services being offered.