Jamaica hits 2 million mark in stopover visitors for first time

Jamaica hits 2 million mark in stopover visitors for first timeMONTEGO BAY — Jamaica welcomed its two millionth stopover visitor for 2013 on Dec. 29, the first time that the country has welcomed in excess of two million visitors in a one-year period.

With an increase in tourist arrivals of 11.2% in October and 7.3% increase in November, the Jamaica Tourist Board anticipates additional growth in 2014.

The destination officially began its 2013/2014 winter tourism season on Sunday, Dec. 15. Jamaica’s Director of Tourism John Lynch announced that over one million air seats have been secured through the winter months into April 2014 – an increase of 40,000 seats compared to last winter.

“Increased airlift and significant hotel investments are due to a greater demand of visitors to Jamaica,” said Lynch. “The destination continues to see an increase in its annual visitor arrivals; 2012 recording 1.8 million stopover arrivals, an increase over the previous year,” he added.

Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon Dr Wykeham McNeill, was filled with praise for industry partners whose contribution he said, has made this historic event a reality. “In reaching this milestone achievement, the industry has established itself with our hotel partners successfully developing international brands. These developments have stimulated growth in the attractions sector; making our country the destination in the region that offers the widest variety of attractions and activities for visitors by land or sea.”

Room stock has increased on the island this year with the opening of newly renovated properties including: Jamaica’s first Azul Sensatori Hotel by Karisma Hotels & Resorts in Negril with 136 rooms; the all-inclusive Royalton White Sands in Falmouth with 352 newly refurbished rooms; Jewel Paradise Cove Resort & Spa, an exclusive adults-only oceanfront property in Runaway Bay with 225 rooms; and the new adults-only RIU Palace in Montego Bay with 238 rooms.

Other investments include the 427-room Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, formerly the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort & Spa, which is slated to open in 2014 in Montego Bay as an all-inclusive resort; the 226-room Braco Village Hotel & Spa in Trelawny which will reopen as the Melia Jamaica in November 2014, and the 130-room Courtyard by Marriott in Kingston which is scheduled for a 2015 completion.