Jamaica Tourism Minister refutes Standard & Poor’s forecast for his sector
Jamaica’s Tourism Minister strongly refutes recent predictions by US-based ratings agency Standard & Poor’s that the poor performance of the Jamaica tourism sector would drag down the rest of the island economy.
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday, October 5, 2011 – Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett revealed this morning that Jamaica is expecting 1.2 million visitors from North America alone this winter season.
Bartlett made this disclosure as he strongly discounted recent pronouncements by the rating agency, Standards & Poor’s (S&P) that Jamaica would experience a major fall off in visitor arrivals to Jamaica as a result of the continued impact that the global economic recession is having on Europe and North America.
In its pronouncements on the matter, S&P said the expected tourism slump would drag down Jamaica’s economic growth over the next two years to less than 2%. The Wall Street-based ratings agency said it was basing its outlook on the contractions in gross domestic product witnessed for Jamaica in 2010.
However, Minister Bartlett, who is currently in Europe for critical discussions with current and potential investors, said: “while I am aware of the concerns in the marketplace, especially as it relates to visitor arrivals the Ministry of Tourism has ramped up its market diversification drive to target new markets in South America, Asia and parts of Europe.”
The Minister emphasized that “our current drive to increase visitor arrivals by boosting airlift capacity has been bearing fruit. With three hundred thousand seats already secured out of Canada for the upcoming Winter Tourist Season, following the addition of three new flights from that market which is in addition to some 700,000 seats out of the North American market we should have some 1.2 million seats for this winter alone.”
Bartlett added that “the diversification will also result in over 12,000 airline seats being secured from South America with additional air seats coming in from Italy, France, Eastern Europe and China.”
“I remain optimistic that despite the economic recession, visitors will continue to visit Jamaica as the destination remains very attractive to holiday seekers,” he said.
The Minister also revealed that in short order a meeting would be held with the Chairman of Air China, which is aimed at securing additional flights and tourists into Jamaica from that Asian country.
Bartlett maintained that “with cruise arrivals projected to go up in 2012 I am confident that our arrival figures will continue to grow despite the harsh economic environment as we continue to implement strategies to foster growth and sustainable development within this all-important sector.”