Annual tourist arrivals to Jamaica surpass population size

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Wykeham McNeill

Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr. Wykeham McNeill

 

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday January 27, 2016 – Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr. Wykeham McNeill says Jamaica has been welcoming more visitors every year than the size of its population.

For the past two years, the island has seen around 3.5 million tourists annually – two million stopover visitors and 1.5 million on cruise ships -, which is a million more than the number of people living in the country.

“Bringing in more people than our current population is no ordinary feat…and we are not done as yet,” McNeill told JIS News.

He said there are currently 2,500 new hotel rooms under construction, adding that never in the history of the country have so many rooms been built simultaneously.

In addition to the current boom, McNeill said, there are about 7,000 more rooms that are in the pipeline. And the minister assured that every effort will be made to ensure that many Jamaicans are employed during the construction phase of this planned expansion.

He pointed out that with all the new rooms coming on stream, more than 10,000 jobs will be available, and he has urged Jamaicans to get themselves certified to meet the demand.

“This is why I have met with Minister (of Education), Rev. Ronald Thwaites, to put together a training programme where our workers can take the proper courses to get certified and position themselves to capitalize on the opportunities that will soon be coming their way. I have met with the Tourism Enhancement Fund and have discussed ways where we can even subsidize some of these programmes,” the tourism minister said.

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