JAPEX 2023 Continues On A High Note

With Jamaica poised to have its best year ever for visitor arrivals, minister of tourism Edmund Bartlett is upbeat about tourism to the destination.

“We are 5% ahead over 2019 in terms of visitor arrivals. Expectation is that we will end the year at some 2.8-2.9 million visitors, which will be just shy of 200,000 more than 2019, which is our best year in the history of tourism,” Bartlett said addressing the media during the Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) underway this week in Montego Bay.

Notably, Bartlett said this fall will see 1.1 million seats to the destination, “the largest we’ve ever had.”

Among the added capacity is Canada Jetlines, a leisure airline that will offer two weekly flights from Toronto to Montego Bay with its 174-seat Airbus A320 aircraft starting Nov. 5. From January 2024, service will increase to three flights per week.

“We will be operating twice a week, Saturday, Sunday,” said Sanjay Kopalkar, director of sales and business development at Canada Jetlines, who also hinted at a possible expansion into Kingston. “Starting with two flights a week, increasing to three flights a week by winter and depending on how we progress and getting the new aircraft, which are lined up as well for the first quarter of 2024, we will definitely look at flying at least five times a week into Jamaica.”

Meanwhile, Donovan White, director of tourism at the Jamaica Tourist Board shared that a new Canadian carrier will take off to Kingston from Toronto in December.

The US$34-million runway extension project at the Sangster International Airport as well as the departure side of the airport expansion is now complete. A new Bob Marley restaurant is now open. The third phase of the expansion will now take on the arrivals side of the airport. In the meantime, White said one of the things that has simplified the arrival process is the Online Passenger Declaration (C5) Form for immigration/customs, which launched this month.

Recent openings in Jamaica include the all-new 260-room Sandals Dunn’s River and Bartlett said another 2,000 rooms are expected to come online within the next year. One of the projects in the pipeline is Hotel Riu Palace Aquarelle, set to debut in summer 2024 with 700 rooms.