Travel and Tourism - Jamaica - November 2011
Jamaica welcomed 1.9 million visitors in 2010, appearing to weather the global recession and a widely reported violent battle between security forces and a drug don in May of the same year that left scores dead in Kingston. The images of street battles in Kingston and the initial reluctance of then Prime Minister Bruce Golding to allow the extradition of the gang leader, Christopher Coke, to the US where he faced charges of drug smuggling, highlighted the tenuous political and social environment in which Jamaica’s tourism operates.
The US, Canada and the UK, Jamaica’s main source markets, issued warnings against travel to Kingston, where the violence was localised. Cancellations followed and arrivals dropped. All-inclusive resorts, which were pioneered in Jamaica and where most of its visitors take their holidays, were not as hard hit as those in Kingston; however, the overall effect was damaging to the country as a whole. At the same time, Jamaica faces increasing competition from the Dominican Republic and Cuba, as well as other islands in the Caribbean and destinations further afield.
Coke’s eventual extradition to the US, aggressive marketing by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), deep discounts and value added, plus inaugural flights on nine airlines including JetBlue, Delta Air Lines and AirTran helped to increase arrivals by 6% during the 2010-11 winter season (January to April). Increases in cruise arrivals after years of decline and the opening of a new pier in Falmouth that can accommodate mega-ships bode well for that sector. Ever optimistic, tourism officials have set a goal of 5 million arrivals and receipts of US$5 billion by 2012.
This report looks at the following aspects of the travel and tourism market in Jamaica:
- Tourist arrivals - overnights and expenditure
- Purpose of visit - business, leisure or VFR
- Accommodation supply - operating performance
- Tourism policy - management
- Transport - access and infrastructure
- Tourism funding - promotion and future development
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