Minister Bartlett Reports Significant Growth in Tourism Arrivals & Earnings

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, is reporting significant growth in the island’s tourism sector with preliminary gross earnings of US$4.38 billion, a 9.6% increase over the fiscal year 2022/23 and “the largest revenue flow from tourism in the history of the tourism industry.”

Concurrently, an estimated 2.96 million stopover arrivals reflect a 9.4% increase while cruise arrivals were up by 9.0% from the previous period in 2022/23 to reach 1.34 million passengers. The Minister also noted that “2024 began with a bang,” with Jamaica now set to achieve its target of 5 million visitors in 4 years instead of the 5 years projected.

The numbers were disclosed in Parliament by Minister Bartlett as he opened the 2024/25 Sectoral Debate yesterday (April 30), with a comprehensive review of the industry’s performance. Underscoring that the tourism dollar had a wide reach, Minister Bartlett said: “When tourism dollars reach local businesses and residents, it creates a more equitable economy, leading to a strong Jamaica where opportunities are accessible to everyone.”

Minister Bartlett went on to state that the significant increase in arrivals was also reflected in the numbers for the traditional winter period, January to April 2024, with a projected 1,294,722 passengers occupying 85% of the 1,523,202 seats available across regions. He outlined that more than 80 per cent of travelers through the airports were tourists and the money earned from them was benefitting everyone.

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Pointing out that this load factor equaled that of the 2019 record, Minister Bartlett said Jamaica’s key markets demonstrated strong performances in capacity increase from the US, which is the largest source market.

“The US maintained a majority stake in the overall market with a 74% share of total arrivals, outperforming 2022 by 16 percentage points and our second largest market, Canada experienced remarkable growth of 38.6%, accounting for 12.9% of the market,” said Minister Bartlett.

Short-term vacation rental is also booming with data from Airbnb indicating that guest check-ins for January to December 2023 increased by 28% over 2022 and generated an estimated J$31.8 billion in gross earnings from 1.3 million guest nights. Mr. Bartlett said “the short-term vacation rental subsector continues to gain market share, with approximately 36% of visitors opting for this accommodation category and it is anticipated that developments in the local construction sector will contribute additional stock.”

Underscoring the impact of the record earnings from tourism, Minister Bartlett said: “The impact has been that several of our communities that were reeling from COVID-19, as a result of this record performance, are now buzzing centers of commerce and activity again and are providing more jobs.”

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Linda Hohnholz