On the heels of an impressive ninth consecutive quarter of economic growth for Jamaica’s tourism industry, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has kicked off engagements in Eastern Europe with a marketing blitz to promote destination Jamaica amid the staging of the 19th World Athletics Championships underway in Budapest, Hungary.
“We met with over 50 tour operators, travel agents and media representatives at the President’s Hotel. We discussed the new way in which Jamaica will engage Central and Eastern European countries, including Poland, Georgia, Serbia and Bulgaria, among others. The connection of course being through Berlin, Germany, via Condor that has a direct route between Montego Bay and Berlin. We are also in discussions with a major private sector player about their plans to operate charter flights between Bulgaria and Jamaica for Winter 2023/24,” noted Minister Bartlett.
Noting that the traffic between Hungary and Jamaica is currently low, the tourism minister stressed that the appetite for travel to Jamaica is strong and he is excited to capitalize on this. He continued, “As Jamaica doubles down on its efforts to increase visitor arrivals, this will provide a unique opportunity to leverage the power of sports tourism to promote Jamaica as an attractive and dynamic travel destination and strengthen the relationship between Jamaica and Europe.”
The tourism minister also highlighted that these engagements are aligned with the Ministry of Tourism’s Blue Ocean Strategy which is targeted at bolstering arrivals from non-traditional markets while encouraging product differentiation locally. Along the same vein, Minister Bartlett welcomed the recent announcement from the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) that the Hotels & Restaurants industry grew by 9% in the April to June 2023 quarter, with preliminary estimates on foreign national arrivals standing at 705,031 visitors, an increase of 14.2% compared with the corresponding quarter of 2022.
At the same time, the latest tourism figures show that between January and July of this year, Jamaica welcomed some 2.47 million visitors. This includes 1.72 million stopover visitors and 747,643 cruise visitors, more than twice the number recorded for the corresponding period in 2022 with gross earnings of US$2.59 billion.
“You’re looking at a more than 24% increase in gross tourism dollars earned in just those seven months.”
“ The economy continues to grow, and tourism continues to play a big role in that. Coming out of the pandemic, tourism has consistently demonstrated its resilience and, as a result, the sector’s contribution to the Jamaican economy cannot be overlooked. Now more than ever, we are focused on advancing programs and policies that ensure this growth trajectory is sustained,” asserted the tourism minister.
With the PIOJ’s recent quarterly report confirming that total visitor expenditure for April 2023 increased by 19.7%, compared with the corresponding month of 2022 as well as a 14.7% uptick in preliminary airport arrivals for July 2023, Jamaica is on track to meet its projections of 3.8 million visitors and foreign exchange earnings of US$4.1 billion by the end of the year.
Returning focus to the dual-purpose nature of his trip, Minister Bartlett added, “The other noteworthy area is the impact of the World Athletics Championships where the Jamaicans are performing creditably and are expected to do greater things leading up to Sunday’s closure. Already we have three medals, two silver and a bronze, and we are expecting to pick up several gold medals in the coming days.”
SEEN IN IMAGE: Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (center), engages in an interactive discussion with Jamaica’s Honorary Consul in Hungary, Viktor Batizi (left) and the Jamaica Tourist Board’s (JTB) Agent in Budapest, Dr. Almay Gyula (right), as he collaborates with the JTB team to lead a strong marketing push in Central and Eastern Europe.