The growth of land and sea tourism in Jamaica is driving the projections

Brian Major

by Brian Major
Last updated: 2:30 PM ET, Friday May 3, 2024

With nearly double-digit growth in resort and cruise visitors so far in 2024, Jamaica is positioned to reach government officials’ prediction of five million annual visitors within four years instead of the five years previously forecast, according to Edmund Bartlett, the country’s minister of tourism.

This year “started with a bang,” Bartlett said, as a total of 2.96 million travelers stayed on land to date, a 9.4 percent increase from 2023. Meanwhile, 2024 totaled 1.34 million visitors to cruise ships, an increase of nine percent compared to 2023.

“The sector has had a record year, exceeding the expectations of all industry experts,” Bartlett said in a parliamentary speech on April 30 discussing the tourism sector’s performance in 2024.

“Jamaica now aims to achieve its target of five million visitors in four years instead of the five years that had been forecast,” he said.

During this year’s winter travel season, between January and April, 85 percent of the 1,523,202 available airline seats to Jamaica were filled, a load factor that equaled a 2019 record, Bartlett said.

Visitor growth in Jamaica was driven by increases in airline capacity from the US, the country’s largest source market, Bartlett added.

“The US retained a majority share of the overall market with a 74 percent share of total arrivals, performing 16 percentage points better than in 2022,” he said. Meanwhile, Canada saw “remarkable” growth of 38.6 percent from 2023, Bartlett added.

New resorts

Jamaica’s resort base is expanding to accommodate tourism growth, Bartlett said. The country will add 2,000 new hotel rooms this year, including the 753-room Riu Palace Aquarelle, which is expected to open on May 4 in the Trelawny district.

Grand Palladium Resort Jamaica

Grand Palladium is one of several resorts in Jamaica set to expand within the year. (Photo by Brian Major)

The first 1,000 rooms of the Princess Grand Jamaica in Green Island, Hanover, will open later this month, Bartlett said during the parliamentary speech, while a 450-room Unico Hotel will open in Montego Bay next summer.

Construction start dates and development plans are expected to be announced soon for “thousands of additional resort rooms,” he added.

These include the 1,000-room Grand Palladium expansion in Hanover, the construction of a 1,000-room Viva Wyndham property north of Negril, a new 700-room Secrets resort and the construction of a 1,100-room Hard Rock Hotels resort in Montego Bay.

In addition, Bahia Principe is undertaking “a multifaceted expansion project that will include villas, apartments, hotel rooms, a PGA-certified golf course, a fishing village and housing for tourism workers,” says Bartlett, who is expected to add 20,000 new resort rooms within 10 to 15 years. .

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