With backing from two of the world's largest airlines and one of the most respected group of travel advisors in its corner, Jamaica is forecasting its best ever summer for tourist arrivals in history.
The island's tourism minister, Edmund Bartlett, revealed the predictions during the ribbon-cutting ceremony officially unveiling the re-imagined Sandals Dunn's River last Friday in Ocho Rios, St Ann.
Bartlett made the bold announcement in the presence of American Airline's Jose Giraldo, Air Canada's Nino Montegnese and American Association of Travel Advisors (ASTA) President Zane Kerby, pointing out that Sandals Resorts International's latest investment was well positioned.
"This will be our strongest possible summer, with 1.4 million seats available to us, a projected 87.5 per cent load factor, 1.23 million visitors for the summer, the best summer projected in the history of Jamaica,” boasted Bartlett, who has been touting for the last two weeks that Jamaica was in full tourism recovery mode.
Jamaica's best summer was 2019, when the island had at its disposal 1.2 million seats, welcoming some 1.06 million visitors.
The tourism minister was however cautious, owing to existential forces and disruptions that are likely to affect the forecast.
These include the recent US State Department travel advisory, which could change the trajectory, perhaps not drastically, but reducing the numbers from the island’s most popular source market.
But Bartlett is obviously not about to sit on his laurels and take this lightly. He has called on all stakeholders to use the same assiduity to purpose that characterised the country’s performance during the Covid-19 pandemic is going to be needed.
He assured the Prime Minister Andrew Holness that Jamaica was back in the market.
“As of the first week of June, we are hitting the road, because our biggest and best market the United States 74.7 per cent of the visitors to Jamaica come from the United States and I am taking no chances. I am more into future growth,” he stated.
The road show will then move to South America, India and the Middle East, “Because our job is to make sure that this economy never slips a beat and we continue grow”.
Already AA brings in 16 flights into the island weekly, while Air Canada has 10 flights to Jamaica weekly.
In the meantime, Jamaica remains a top 10 destination for aspirational visits by Americans, ASTA’s president Kerby posited, noting that proximity, warm hospitality, cystal blue beaches are just a few of the reasons Americans dream of coming to Jamaica.
The 18,000 travel advisors who are members of ASTA he says equate Sandals and Jamaica as one.
Kerby is predicting that Sandals Dunn’s River will fast become the escape route for Americans who are desperate to get away from the machine-driven, sometimes soul-less life that too many of them are living.
Sandals now operates nine resorts in Jamaica.