KINGSTON, Jamaica, Saturday January 20, 2018 – A record 4.3 million tourists visited Jamaica last year.
And according to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, that’s a 12.1 per cent increase over arrivals in 2016.
“We broke the four million mark in December and by the end of (the month) we had gone to 4.3 million arrivals. This figure comprised 2,353,461 stopover arrivals and 1,946,780 cruise passengers, providing a revenue flow of approximately US$3 billion,” he said.
Bartlett said the historic tourism out-turns for 2017 were milestone achievements for Jamaica, noting that “it is the first time that…we brought more than 500,000 additional visitors in a single calendar year”.
Noting that Jamaica earned US$2.56 billion in 2016, he said last year’s revenue inflow indicates that “we have (generated) nearly US$500 million of additional earnings in one single year”.
Against this background, the Ministry lauded the industry’s stakeholders, including entrepreneurs and workers, for their collective contribution to the exponential growth in visitor arrivals and earnings in 2017. He was also optimistic that the momentum will continue in 2018.
He noted that new trends developing in tourism globally are resulting in an increasing number of travellers seeking “authentic experiences” when they visit destinations.
And he contended that Jamaica is a prime destination for this emerging market, especially with the rapid rise of American online marketplace and hospitality service, Airbnb, which facilitates the ease of homeowners globally, leasing or renting their properties to tourists.
Of the visitors who came to Jamaica last year, 55,000 booked via Airbnb, up from 35,000 in 2016, “which that means that we have added over 20,000 new visitors with a different type of demand for experiences in our space”.
“These visitors are not necessarily staying in hotels. They are more likely to book via Airbnb. They want to immerse themselves in local culture – the food, music, people and communities – and I believe Jamaica is a natural attractor with its rich heritage,” Bartlett said.