by STAFF WRITER
December 15, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Dec 15, CMC – Jamaica is predicting “the best winter season” since 2019, after reporting an uptick in cruise arrivals and a positive forecast for stopover visitors.
The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) is projecting an average 65 per cent occupancy for the 2021 winter tourist season, which began on Wednesday.
“From everything we have been seeing, the numbers are very encouraging,” said Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett.
“While not pre-COVID-19 numbers, there is every indication that Jamaica will have a very good winter season…certainly far better than last year…and a true testament that we are on the road to recovery,” he said.
Bartlett, who is currently attending a tourism forum in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said he is particularly pleased with the efforts of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and its marketing team, noting that their ability to stay on message, even while in the face of a raging pandemic “has been remarkable on all fronts.”
He also praised the island’s resilient corridors for keeping the sector “vibrant and viable,” underscoring what he said was a level of professionalism in creating and maintaining an environment that is both safe for locals and visitors alike.
“We do have a lot of dedicated workers to thank for being where we are…for going into a winter season that is filled with hope and optimism.
“We must also give a big shout out to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), and the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) for their efforts on the ground and for ensuring that our health and safety guidelines were in line with international standards,” he added.
JHTA president, Clifton Reader, said people, despite all the havoc that has been created by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, have never really lost their appetite for travelling, cautioning however against complacency.
“We’re living with COVID-19 and seeing its minimised effects, but we must still be cognisant it is still there,” Reader said, noting that during a recent visit by travel agents and tour operators, the hotels received excellent ratings for maintenance of product standards and health and safety protocols, which will translate into increased bookings for the destination.
He said that this will not only strengthen the linkages between tourism and other sectors but will also benefit other industries, including farmers and other suppliers.
Chief strategist and adviser in the Ministry of Tourism, Delano Seiveright, said that what has always worked in Jamaica’s favour is that, despite all the setbacks resulting from COVID, “the tourism product and offerings remain first-class.
“Everywhere we go…in all the marketplaces we have been, for both cruise and stopover…Jamaica is in demand. If we can get this right where our people can get themselves vaccinated, we will recover faster than we would have expected. Tourism is indeed on the rebound and we can, barring the unforeseen, expect a very good winter tourist season,” Seiveright added.