Jamaica Premieres Programs To Address Visitor Surge – TravelPulse

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Jamaica Premieres Programs To Address Visitor Surge
Brian Major
This article originally appeared the April issue of AGENTatHOME magazine. Subscribe here to receive your free copy each month.
Jamaica government and tourism officials are launching initiatives to address often-controversial issues related to public access and shared citizen and visitor utilization of the Caribbean nation’s popular beaches, inland rivers and other sites.
Jamaica’s Tourism Product Development Company Limited (TPDCO) in March terminated rafting on the White River in St. Ann parish following “multiple attempts” to remove nongovernment sanctioned operators.
The move followed “many consultations with offending parties and a myriad of complaints from visitors and stakeholders,” TPDCO officials said in a statement.
Transgressions include “sexual harassment, raftsmen operating in a drunken state, other criminal activities and a prolonged breach of the River Rafting Act,” sad officials.
The government’s actions include the placement of closure notices “advising the general public that the section of the White River under the bridge is closed to unlicensed activities” by order of the River Rafting Authority, the agency responsible for regulation of river rafting in Jamaica.
Rafting on Jamaica’s inland rivers, an activity popularized by film legend Erol Flynn and still enjoyed by visitors to the Caribbean nation, has multiplied in popularity as post-pandemic travel to the country has boomed.
“Destination assurance is fully predicated on public order,” said Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s tourism minister, at an April gathering of tourism stakeholders in Montego Bay reported by the Jamaica Observer.

“Jamaica firmly believes the tourism sector is one that should always be guided by sound policies,” said Bartlett. (Photo Credit: Bran Major)

Without referencing the White River closure, Bartlett added that Jamaica’s Ministry of Tourism and tourism sector “stands squarely behind the Ministry of National Security to secure and ensure public order in the public spaces of Jamaica.”
Bartlett said he would not excuse “users of tourism assets who believe they can flaunt every law, walk beside every rule and make the comfort of average people in Jamaica who use those spaces a miserable experience.”
Jamaica’s tourism ministry and TPDCO in April launched a series of “consultations” with tourism stakeholders in popular resort area to discuss local tourism and the industry’s wider impact on the national economy.
Meetings were held with Negril’s Destination Assurance Council (DAC), tourism stakeholders, and public and private partners from the resort town’s Boardwalk Village district, Bartlett said.
Jamaica has DAC’s in the six resort areas tasked with “ensuring that the quality, standards, and integrity of Jamaica’s tourism products are maintained,” said officials.
The Ministry of Tourism’s “Spruce Up” program will work with local police in resort areas to “clean up and prepare areas that could become centers of excellence” and “create a culture of public order within tourism spaces.”
Bartlett said Jamaica’s tourism sector has grown by 36 percent in the past 30 years, a period during which the country’s total economic growth was 10 percent, highlighting tourism’s key role as an economic driver.
Jamaica’s efforts to manage its tourism assets to the benefit of residents as well as visitors comes as the country is forecast to exceed expectations.
Jamaica is poised to reach 11 percent visitor arrivals growth in 2023 compared with 2022, ahead of projections set by the Caribbean nation’s government, said Edmund Bartlett.
Jamaica’s strong 2023 tourism growth is based on the island’s “primary markets registering growth over the previous period,” including “steady growth” of seven percent among U.S. travelers, said Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) officials in a statement.
Additionally, visitation to Jamaica from Canada its projected to grow by 38.7 percent compared with 2022 totals, while JTB officials say travel from the United Kingdom and Europe to Jamaica is forecast to grow by 5.3 percent.
“Our airline partners, tour operators, travel agents and so many more have contributed to the destination remaining top of mind and accelerating our recovery,” said Donovan White, JTB’s director.
Jamaica’s 2022 visitor arrivals totaled 3.3 million visitors, Bartlett said. The country hosted 558,119 visitor arrivals during the first 10 weeks of 2023, a 55.6 percent increase over the same period last year, Bartlett said.
Brian Major is Managing Editor for Digital Publications & Guides/Caribbean.

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