Buoyed by the rapid recovery of Jamaica’s tourism industry from the devastating fallout from COVID-19, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett and a team were due to depart the island on Friday for a global marketing tour to boost visitor arrivals .
Based on current arrival figures, the Minister of Tourism predicts that “this winter, which ends at the end of April, will see more than 70% recovery of tourism in Jamaica.
“Including cruise lines, Jamaica has just under a million visitors and revenues of approximately $1.5 billion,” Bartlett said.
He added that summer bookings are now looking better than pre-COVID in 2019, “And we just hit the market,” Bartlett said.
The first stop for the Department of Tourism team will be the UK this weekend, where they will be joined by Minister for Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange to promote activities to mark the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence.
The tourism promotion team will then travel to New York to boost travel from the northeast coast of the United States, including New Jersey, Connecticut, to Boston.
“And then we go from there and we reach the new market in the Middle East. We meet all the mega airlines including Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, SAL, and we also go to Riyadh to meet King Khalid, their major aviation company, who wants to open 225 new gateways, and we want Jamaica be in there,” Bartlett said.
He was speaking on Wednesday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the 753-room RIU Aquarelle, which will be RIU’s seventh hotel in Jamaica.
Paving the way for the construction of RIU’s seventh hotel in Jamaica, the RIU Aquarelle to be built in Trelawny, are (left to right) RIU’s Vice President of Operations, USA, Jamaica and Bahamas, Alejandro Sanchez; President and CEO of RIU Hotels, Carmen Riu; Prime Minister Andrew Holness; Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett; MP for North Trelawny, Tova Hamilton; and Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Floyd Green.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness praised RIU Hotels for investing in seven hotels in Jamaica over 21 years, describing it as a remarkable achievement.
He invited the company’s general manager, Carmen Riu, to explore the construction of an eighth hotel on the southeast coast, which Jamaica is developing for a different type of tourist experience.
“Tourism and hospitality has become very important to us here in Jamaica, which through investments like (that of) the Riu family has made our tourism product a sought-after destination in the Caribbean region,” Holness said. .
RIU currently has 3,500 rooms in Jamaica and employs approximately 2,200 people. During the COVID-19 pandemic-induced closure, RIU Montego Bay and RIU Ocho Rios hotels were renovated, and all of the chain’s hotels in Jamaica have since been updated, with new services offered.