NASSAU -- Jamaica's Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett predicted that Jamaica will post a 1.1% total stopover visitor arrival increase in 2007 over the record-breaking 2006 figures, once all numbers are crunched and tabulated.

"Furthermore, we are elated to see that preliminary numbers for January already are looking exceptionally strong," Bartlett said in remarks at the Caribbean Hotel Association's annual Caribbean Marketplace event in Nassau this week. "These figures indicate an estimated increase in stopover arrivals of 7% in the first seven days of January as compared with the same period last year," Bartlett said.

According to Bartlett, Jamaica's room inventory will total 75,000 rooms by 2015, given the average of 4,600 new rooms per year.

One hotel project underway is at Goldeneye, the Island Outpost resort in Orcabessa. The property is adding a high-end residential and full-service resort village to its existing space, adding 170 rooms, a marina, aspa, pools, a lagoon and an offshore bar. Completion is scheduled for late 2008.

The minister outlined a number of other projects currently underway in Jamaica, aimed at refining the destination's tourism product. These include:

" The "Spruce Up Jamaica" program in several resort areas, with attention focused on environmental protection, drew many residents who joined in the cleaning, painting, and landscaping, "inspired by a true passion for our land. This tells me that our residents are eager to be a part of the action," the minister said.

" In Port Antonio, the Trident Hotel is undergoing renovations and will reopen late this year.

" Jamaica plans to launch an island-wide fall promotion called Boonoonoonoos, which will include a series of special events for tour operators, agents and press.

Getting to and around the island

" A three-phase, $139 million expansion program is underway at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston. Already completed are the two-level passenger piers separating arriving and departing passengers, four new passenger bridges, the addition of 66 airline check-in positions and new airport technology at the gates.

The check-in hall currently is under renovation as are a new departure lounge, security screening stations and the terminal arrivals area. Completion of the departure concourse is slated for late March/early April as are renovations to the arrivals area.

At Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, work has been completed on the customs, immigration and arrivals area, 11 new gates and a retail area with 32 outlets.

" Work on the North Coast Highway will be completed this year between Montego Bay and Falmouth; work on Highway 2000 will create six traffic lanes and improved drainage along two of the main thoroughfares in Kingston.

" The Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier will open in September 2009 and will welcome the 5,400-passenger Royal Caribbean Genesis in November 2009. The facility will be able to handle two Genesis-class ships simultaneously.

Attractions and Events

" In the attractions arena, construction will be completed in May on Mystic Mountain near Dunn's River, a rainforest terrain 700 feet above sea level with a bobsled coaster ride and an aerial tramway tour.

" The Lucea in the Sky bicycle tour, which travels through local communities near Montego Bay, will open this summer.

" The annual Air Jamaica Jazz and Blue Festival takes place from Jan. 24 to 27. In addition, February has been declared Reggae Month in Jamaica by Prime Minister Bruce Golding. Special events and musical performances will be held island-wide throughout the month.

" Japex, Jamaica's annual product exchange for buyers and suppliers, will be held in Kingston from April 25 through 27.

 

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to[email protected].

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