Elated by the rate at which Jamaica’s tourism industry is recovering from the devastating COVID-19 fallout, Jamaica Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, is all set to embark on a global marketing tour to boost visitor arrivals.
Arrival figures indicate 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,” Minister Bartlett disclosed at yesterday’s (April 20) ground-breaking for RIU’s seventh hotel in Jamaica – the 753-room RIU Aquarelle. Inclusive of cruise passengers, Jamaica is looking at just under one million visitors and earnings of about US$1.5 billion.
Additionally, “bookings for summer are now looking better than pre-COVID in 2019 and we’re just hitting the market,” said Mr. Bartlett as a prelude to disclosing that this Friday (April 22) he leaves the island with a team “to start a mega marketing campaign across the world.”
The first stop is in the United Kingdom this weekend when he will join Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia “Babsy” Grange in promoting activities to mark Jamaica’s 60th anniversary of independence.
The tourism team will move on to New York to stimulate travel from the US Northeastern 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, S.A.L. 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,” said Minister Bartlett.
The itinerary also includes a meeting with representatives of Royal Jordanian Airlines, as a plan is rolled out to establish Jamaica as the hub for the Middle Eastern market for the Caribbean and the Americas.
With breaks in between, the marketing tour will also go on to Africa, Canada, Europe and Latin America.
At the end of the global marketing blitz in October, Minister Bartlett expects to have agreements signed for an additional 8,000 new hotel rooms in Jamaica.
Delivering the keynote address at the ground-breaking ceremony, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. 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 Mr. Holness. He said over the years the tourism industry had taken on increased significance “because the truth is that the government has focused on the industry, giving leadership and direction and emphasis to the industry.”
Señora Riu said the company currently has 3,500 rooms in Jamaica and employs 2,200 workers. During the COVID-19 pandemic induced shutdown, the RIU Montego Bay and RIU Ocho Rios hotels were refurbished, and all their hotels in Jamaica have now been updated with new services being offered.