The Jamaica Tourist Board is reporting a strong start in tourism arrivals for 2009, with 148, 886 total stopover arrivals for January representing an increase of 4.2 percent over the same period in 2008.

For the first month of this year, Jamaica welcomed 80,190 visitors from the United States and just under 40,000 visitors from Canada. Despite the current economic downturn, it is worthy of note that the Canadian market experienced witnessed a huge 37.7 percent increase over January 2008.

Preliminary figures for February 2009 also reflect this growth trend, showing an increase of 1.3 percent. Even more encouraging is the preliminary figures for the first week of March which show a 12.9 percent increase over the corresponding period last year.

“Jamaica’s strong start to 2009 is heartening in these challenging economic times and a testament to our ongoing commitment to providing value for money for visitors,” said John Lynch, Jamaica’s Director of Tourism. “With new and expanded hotels and attractions, increased airlift, plus an enhanced infrastructure, we ensure a diversified product that attracts both new and repeat visitors. We look forward to another strong year of tourism in Jamaica, as we continue to work to meet the ever-evolving needs of travelers.”

Last year, Jamaica experienced a 3.9 percent growth in stopover arrivals, with a total of 1,769,271 visitors. Of that number 1,150,942 came from the United States – Jamaica’s primary source market.