Editorial

Kingston looking good by the numbers

Friday, June 14, 2019

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To its eternal credit, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) has never neglected to promote Kingston as heavily as it does the island's major resort areas. Even in times when sections of the capital city were experiencing turbulence, the JTB made sure to send the word throughout the travel trade that Kingston was open for business.

The upshot of that positive approach to promoting Kingston has resulted in growth in visitor arrivals to the city in successive years. For instance, the latest JTB statistics show that in 2017 Kingston recorded 441,332 total stopover arrivals an increase of 2.7 per cent on the 429,934 in 2016.

At the same time, the number of room nights sold in Kingston and St Andrew grew from 263,161 in 2016 to 277,749 in 2017.

Of course, these room nights figures are small in comparison to the major resort areas of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril. However they are far more than those recorded for Port Antonio, regarded as the cradle of Jamaica's tourism, and the Mandeville/south coast resort area.

The fact that the Kingston numbers are increasing speaks to the effectiveness of the marketing of the capital as a business, cultural, adventure, and sport destination. Indeed, we saw in March this year where all major hotels as well as Airbnb accommodations were booked as Jamaicans and people from other countries flocked to the city for the Buju Banton concert and the annual Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships.

At the time, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett told us that March was trending as the biggest month ever in Jamaica's history, with 34,000 more visitors than the same month last year.

When placed with the overall performance of the industry, the country, Mr Bartlett said, was trending to achieve close to five-million arrivals this year and earn US$4 billion.

That is indeed good news for the economy and the well-being of the more than 48,000 people employed in the accommodations sub-sector alone.

Outside of the JTB's efforts, great credit must be given to private sector investors who have shown tremendous faith in Kingston with the addition of new hotels and restaurants.

Just last week the R Hotel added 48 rooms to the city, and next Monday when it official opens the 220-room AC Hotel, an initiative of the Gordon “Butch” Stewart family enterprise, will increase the city's overall room count to just over 2,800.

Add to that the 168 rooms that will come on stream next year when the Oceana Hotel is scheduled to be reopened as ROK Kingston and you can appreciate the excitement among the city's tourism players who will, we expect, increase marketing and promotion of the city.

This, we believe, should serve to prod the Government, and anyone so interested, to make greater investments in museums that will further share Jamaica's rich heritage and culture with our visitors.

For the sceptics, we reiterate that they look at the economic impact of museums on many cities in Europe and North America. There are many travellers who want more than sun, sea, and sand.

Kingston has a lot to offer visitors, and the hoteliers have done their part. Let us, therefore, capture our share of that market.


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