Cruise calls a boon to Jamaica arrivals

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NEW YORK -- The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) reported an average 20% jump in visitor arrivals to the island in the first half of 2003 compared to the same period a year ago, largely thanks to a boom in cruise calls.

"It's inspiring to see such a remarkable comeback for tourism, and to know that so many people are traveling again," said director of tourism Paul Pennicook, in a statement.

Although Pennicook credited intense promotion by the JTB, airlines and hotels for the rebound, the numbers show the recovery was fueled mainly by cruise ship calls.

The number of cruise passenger arrivals to Jamaican ports of call skyrocketed by 40%, totaling 601,214, compared to 431,765 in 2002. By comparison, Jamaica's room overnights grew by just 6% from January to June, to 678,315, up from a total of 634,015 in the first six months of 2002.

Still, growth is growth, and Pennicook said he expects the upward trend to continue.

"With exciting marketing activities planned throughout the rest of the year and into 2004, we anticipate a continuous increase in arrivals," he added.

To contact reporter Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].

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