The arrivals, just eight days into the winter tourist season, are a welcome boost to the tourism sector.
The visitors arrived on 55 flights – 10 long-haul runs, four coming from Germany and six from the United Kingdom (UK).
On hand to welcome them were Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ), Dennis Morrison; Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), Jennifer McDonald; President of the AAJ, Audley Diedrick; and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MBJ Airports Limited, operators of Sangster International, Dr. Rafael Echevarne.
The passengers were treated to Jamaican-made ice cream, coconut water and juices, and live music from a calypso band.
Speaking to JIS News, Mr. Morrison said the number of arrivals represents a 20 per cent increase over the corresponding period last year, which he attributed to the promotional work of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, the JTB and its other agencies.
“There have been a lot of activities marketing Jamaica as a destination working with various tour operators. A particularly important factor in today’s turnout in terms of visitors is the air and sea arrangement with Thomson, in which the passengers arrive here to go on cruises; also, on the departure side, you see people who arrived a couple weeks ago leaving,” he said.
Mr. Morrison commended the staff of MBJ Airports Limited for the efficiency with which the visitors were processed, noting that the activities “proceeded like clockwork.”
“They have done a very efficient job in terms of extending courtesies to the passengers and assisting them in many ways.… the lines have moved pretty smoothly and its quite obvious that a lot of preparation went into accommodating all of these passengers here today,” he said.
Mrs. McDonald, for her part, said PICA was well prepared for today’s increase in arrivals with newly recruited immigration officers being assigned along with support from Kingston.
“We recruited 39 immigration officers islandwide, 23 of whom are for Montego Bay. They graduated a week or two ago and they have been on the line. So we boosted our staff complement. We also employed more immigration assistants. These are the persons, who are roving on the floor and for today, we brought in five persons from Kingston to assist,” she informed.
Dr. Echevarne told JIS that MBJ Airports added facilities such as a new security lane with extra machines and metal detectors.
He informed that a large number of customer agents were assigned to provide support to the passengers.