The tourism ministry is projecting a sharp increase in visitors from China this year following the removal of the major stumbling blocks.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says getting flights from China to Jamaica was the main problem restricting the number of Chinese visitors to the island.
However, recent discussions involving officials of four carriers – Air China, China Southern, North West Airline and Air Jamaica – have resulted in agreements which should make it easier for the Chinese to get to the island.
Solving the airlift problem
In addition, an agreement for direct flights between China and Jamaica should be in place by the end of this year.
Bartlett has been in China since Sunday trying to settle the problem of airlift.
In an interview from China, the tourism minister told The Gleaner that air service agreements are to be signed shortly which could see Air China and China Southern taking passengers to the United States, where they will be placed on North West Airline flights to Jamaica.
Air Jamaica is also discussing code-share agreements with the international airlines as part of the package.
“Last year we had 1,067 visitors from China, which was a 10.3 per cent increase over 2006, and this year we should have a further increase,” Bartlett said.
The tourism minister is slated to travel to Japan today for talks aimed at reversing the recent decline in Japanese visitors to Jamaica.
Reclaiming our market
In 2007, there was an 18 per cent decline in visitors from Japan when compared with 2006.
“We are going back for our market share with a team that understands the Japanese market,” Bartlett added.
From Japan, the tourism minister is scheduled to go to Dubai, where he will address the World Tourism and Travel Council’s annual summit.