MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica September 22, - Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, says there has been growth in Jamaica’s visitor arrival from all source markets for the first eight months of the year. This, he says, has placed the island’s tourism industry in a “very good place, ” with a significant 13 per cent increase in arrivals from the United Kingdom (UK). “We had some challenges out of the UK where we were having negative growth for about four years. Last year, we had growth of over four per cent, which was very good for us …to the end of August, this year, we are up 13 per cent out of the UK,” Dr. McNeil said. The Tourism Minister who was addressing the official opening ceremony for the 2014 Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) Trade Show at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James on Sunday, September 21, said the growth is as a result of the hard work by the Ministry in promoting brand Jamaica. “We continue to grow in terms of our stopover arrivals and what is really encouraging about that growth is that we continue to grow out of every single market and this is truly a commendable achievement and largely due to the work that all of you do here in this Ministry,” he stated. He said the sector is also doing very well in terms of attracting both local and international investors. “We have major local and international investors…Sagicor, the Facey family, Riu, Blue Diamond, Moon Palace, Hyatt and Carisma…they have brought a lot of new brands to Jamaica, which add to those really strong Jamaican brands that have, for years, driven tourism in Jamaica and continue to drive the sector. They have also brought in new brands like Sensatori, Royalton and Marriott,” he pointed out. Meanwhile, Minister McNeill said the Ministry of Tourism is working hard to establish and maintain the linkages among all sectors, which support tourism. Just over a year ago, the Tourism Linkages Hub was established by the Ministry with a mandate of increasing economic linkages between tourism and other sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and entertainment. “We have put an emphasis on not only getting visitors and earning more from tourism, but also retaining those earnings in Jamaica. It is that which accounts for the large percentage of persons from other sectors other than the tourism sector that is here at this JAPEX. Jamaica is on a drive to increase the level of retention from tourism earnings by strengthening the linkages with other sectors of our economy,” he said.
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