After registering robust tourism growth last year, Jamaica’s tourism officials are gearing up for another successful year, helping to position the island as a leader in Caribbean tourism.

Addressing the Caribbean and international media this week in the Bahamas at one of the most important tourism marketing event of the year for the Caribbean region, Caribbean Marketplace, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett reported that Jamaica’s tourist arrivals are back on an upward curve.

“We are elated to see that preliminary figures for this month are already looking exceptionally strong,” Minister Bartlett reported, indicating an estimated increase in stopover arrivals of 7 percent in the first seven days of January compared with the same period last year.

At the end of October 2007, stopover arrivals registered a 0.6 percent increase over 2006, which was itself a record-breaking year. Preliminary figures for November indicate growth of 4.4 percent, with 3 percent in December. Based on current projections, Jamaica will show an increase in stopover arrivals of at least 1.1 percent in 2007 over the record-breaking arrivals of 2006.

Upcoming events on the Jamaica tourism calendar include the annual Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival from January 24 to 27; Reggae Month in February; the JAPEX trade extravaganza to be held in the cultural capital of Kingston from April 25 through 27; and a new fall consumer promotion called Boonoonoonoos.

Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Senator Allen Chastanet of St. Lucia, commended Minister Bartlett for the inspiring vision he is bringing to both Jamaica and the Caribbean region.  He stated, “The Caribbean has only scratched the surface of its potential. The vision and cooperation we have seen from Jamaica’s new Minister of Tourism encourages us all in the region to continue striving for excellence as we collectively seek to improve our arrivals and visitor expenditures in 2008.”

Minister Bartlett, who is in the Bahamas along with the Director General in the Ministry of Tourism, Carrole Guntley, Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board John Lynch, and Director of Tourism Basil Smith, along with other players in Jamaica’s public and private sector, are taking an active part in one of the largest Caribbean Marketplace events.  The trade show was attended by more than 1,400 delegates this week. The event, which ends today, sets the tone for travel packaging in the Caribbean.

"There is a huge benefit in attending the Caribbean Hotel Association Marketplace because it's a valid network that brings buyers and sellers together,” said Minister Bartlett.  “In fact, meetings are underway for a premium class service from London to Jamaica beginning in late spring."

Minister Bartlett concludes his overall impressions by stating, “It has been a great opportunity for Jamaica to be present in the largest marketplace in the last 20 years.  The media presence at CHA has been enormous which has allowed the Jamaica brand to be transmitted."