Tue | Jan 16, 2018

Bartlett targets eastern European tourists for Jamaica

Published:Monday | December 18, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett speaks with Galina Sotirova (left), country manager, World Bank Group, and Therese Turner-Jones, general managerof the Country Department Caribbean Group (CCB) of the Inter-American Development Bank.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett is once again touting eastern Europe as the next big area of growth in terms of tourist arrivals into Jamaica, citing new airlift arrangements as the basis for his optimism.

According to Bartlett, the potential for improved airlift out of eastern Europe has come with renewed energy as a result of new flights through Lufthansa's Eurowings, which he said has changed the face of flight arrangements in that part of the continent.

"We know there are challenges for airlift in the former Baltic states, but with Eurowings operating out of three major cities in Germany, including Munich, which will start early next year, it will give us connectivity with Poland and Croatia and also from Georgia and Latvia, among others. So we are in a good place," Bartlett said during a press briefing on the outcome of the recent tourism conference, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

He noted that as the country continues to receive favourable ratings from visitors, it has resulted in a strong growth, adding that the upcoming winter tourist season will Jamaica's biggest on record.

"The winter season coming promises to be the biggest that Jamaica will ever have. This year's performance will have morphed into next year because we are growing at double digits on average every month since April," Bartlett stated.

In April, we started the double-digit growth, and then May was a little under at nine per cent or so, and then June. Then came July; it was the biggest July in the history of the country - it is usually our biggest month, bigger than December - and after that, it has been high double digits," said Bartlett.

Bartlett ticked off August at 16 per cent growth, September with a 10 per cent (despite the country's airports being closed for nearly a week because of a hurricane scare). October and November, he said, recorded 15 per cent growth, with December looking at about 14 per cent so far.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com