The growing room count, particularly along
Jamaica's north coast, and a decline in U.S. visitor arrivals were
big topics at the Jamaica Product Exchange held in late April at
the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort & Spa in Ocho Rios.
More than 1,100
rooms were added to Jamaica's hotel room inventory last year, and
1,200 more will become available this year, according to Dennis
Morrison, chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board.
confirmed that these room numbers are in line with Jamaica's
five-year goal of 12,000 new rooms by 2012.
With an eye
toward the increased room count, the JTB is actively pursuing a
number of markets, including the group and incentive segment, with
a strong presence at trade shows in the U.S. and Europe.
In her opening
address to delegates, Portia Simpson Miller, Jamaica's prime
minister, reported that Jamaica set an arrival record in 2006,
topping 3 million visitors, including more than 1 million from the
U.S. Cruise passenger arrivals rose by 18% to more than 1.8
visitor arrival numbers have declined this year to date. Basil
Smith, director of tourism, said the law that requires Americans to
show a passport when re-entering the U.S., which took effect in
January, "has certainly contributed to fewer arrivals, but other
factors also are responsible, such as a declining U.S.
Also, Cancun has
recovered from Hurricane Wilma in 2005, re-emerging as a strong
competitor with a substantial marketing budget, Smith said.
executive vice president of sales worldwide for Sandals Resorts,
was more specific about the new passport requirement, estimating a
10% loss in business for the Caribbean from January through June of
this year, especially in the budget and mass markets.
suffered during the spring break/Easter holiday season. Many
students and random travelers now are more likely to travel within
their home country rather than go through the expense and hassle
involved in securing a passport," Lynch said.
chairman of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association's organizing
committee and managing director of Round Hill Hotel & Villas,
said he saw no significant change in occupancies thus far this year
at his property. "Most of our guests are seasoned travelers who
already had passports," he said. "But the U.S. accounts for more
than 70% of visitors to the Caribbean, and this is a huge market
that the region cannot afford to lose."
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