Record tourist arrivals for Jamaica

Jamaica tourist arrivals are now running at record levels since August this year, with data showing the country enjoying four consecutive months of arrivals exceeding similar months in 2019, the previous best period. Airport passenger movements through the Sangster International Airport are up an average of 12 percent for September to November.
If the recent trend continues, it would mean that stopover arrivals should be in the region of 3 million next year, up from 2,680,920 in 2019 and would exceed those in 2022 of around 2.5 million by a solid 20 percent or so, with the winter months enjoying much higher levels of growth as those moths were down sharply compared with 2019.
Tourist arrivals into Jamaica continued the significant improvement over 2019, the best year for tourist arrivals for the country, with traffic through the Montego Bay Sangster International Airport rising 8 percent over 2019 and 38.7 percent over 2021 as 375,900 passengers passed through the airport this year, up from 271,000 in 2021 and 348,200 total passengers arriving and departing in 2019. For the eleven months of 2022, airport arrivals in the west of the country amounted to 3,918,700 compared to 2,240,600 and 2021 and 8 percent less than the 4,208,100 that passed through the airport in 2019.
Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston had 131,700 passengers passing through the airport in November this year and up a solid 68.8 percent above the 78,000 passing through in 2021 and 1.1 percent less than 133,200 passengers passing through in 2019. Kingston’s Norman Manley airport handled 1,398,800 passengers for the 11 months to November, 93.8 percent above the 721,800 handled in 2021 but down 17 percent on the 1,680,477 movements in 2019.

Jamaica tourists’ arrivals 17% upon 2019

Tourist arrivals to Jamaica likely jumped 17 percent in September 2022 over 2019, the best September on record, data out of Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay indicate. According to a report, the total number of passengers handled by the airport in the month was 300,600, up from the 256,900 passengers passing through the airport in September 2019 and well up on the 191,000 passengers dealt with in September 2021.

Growth in tourism expected in 2023

At the same time, 137,000 passengers passed through the Norman Manley airport in Kingston in September, up from only 73,000 passengers in September 2021 and marginally down 3 percent from the 141,029 processed in September 2019.
Total passenger movements for Montego Bay increased 83.2 percent, from 1,761,000 in 2021 to 3,225,800 in the first nine months this year and was 89.1 percent of the 3,622,100 passengers handled in the same period in 2019.
Kingston Airport handled processed 99.6 percent more passengers for the first nine months of 2022, an increase from 565,900 in 2021 to 1,129,400 or 20 percent less than the 1,410,142 passengers handled in 2019.

Jamaica tourist arrivals above 2019?

Growth in tourism in August 2022 exceeds 2019

Tourist arrivals to Jamaica may have exceeded 2019 numbers for the first time since the tourist industry suffered a major decline following the advent of Covid-19 in 2020, data from Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay shows.
The airport handled 1.1 percent more than the 401,500 passengers in August 2019 bringing total passenger movements in August 2022 to 405,800, which was 5.7 percent fewer than the 430,300 handled in July this year and was 2.9 percent fewer than the 443,100 passengers handled in July 2019. The Airport handled 294,100 passengers in August 2021.
The Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica handled 184,400 total passengers in August this year, an increase of 4.6 percent over July and almost twice the numbers in August last of 97,300 passengers.  Traffic in August 2022 increased by 4.6 percent from 176,300 total movements in July 2022 to 184,400 in August 2022.
For the first eight months of 2022, Sangster International handled 86.3 percent more passengers, from 1,569,900 in 2021 to 2,925,100. The number of passengers this year to August is 87 percent of the 3,365,200 passengers handled in the similar period of 2019. Through the first eight months of 2022 Kingston’s Airport saw total passenger movements grow by 101.3 percent, from 492,900 in 2021 to 992,100 in the first eight months of 2022.

Has Jamaican economy fully recovered?

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The Jamaican economy grew 6.4 percent in the first quarter of this year over a similar period in 2020, according to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, overall GDP was still less than for the first quarter in 2020 but not far behind and with the faster pick up in visitor arrivals in the June quarter and its linkages to the rest of the economy GDP could be back to 2019 levels.

Image courtesy of arztsamui/

The economic rebound is happening much faster than official reports suggested. Most likely, except for mining, the overall economy could exceed that of 2019, early data from the tourism sector for the June quarter suggests. The hotel and restaurant sector that grew 107 percent in the March quarter over 2022, with the tourist arrivals at just 72 percent of 2019 outturn. Data of visitor arrivals in the June quarter show the sector looks like it may come in around 97 percent of 2019 and will help push the industry to near full recovery compared to a 78 percent the hotel and restaurant sector represents in the 2022 first quarter versus 2019.  The only other sectors that are down significantly are mining at a mere 28 percent of 2019 and Other Services at 85 percent of that in 2019.

Agriculture is the best performing sector

Statin puts output for the economy in real terms at $189.9 billion at the end of March, just shy of the $191 billion for the first quarter of 2020 but 3 percent off the $195.7 billion in the 2019 first quarter. The economy would need to grow 7.3 percent in 2022 in the second quarter to equal the 2019 outturn of 197 billion.
The data for GDP going back to the early 21 century reveal that the country’s GDP growth has been anaemic as the 2019 GDP of $197 billion is just above the 2008 first quarter of $194 billion.

Tourism arrivals 95% of 2019 for Jamaica

The Jamaica Tourist Board’s last release of tourism arrivals to the country is for March this year, nearly three months away, unacceptable for one of the country’s leading industries.

Tourism arrivals in April & May down just 5% on 2019

Data for March from the Jamaica Tourist Board shows the county welcomed 215,789 stopover visitors, some 29 percent less than March 2019. The Tourist Board is yet to release April numbers, but data out of Sangster International Airport suggests that arrivals in April exceeded those for March, to be the best month for the year to date. Indications are that tourist arrivals could be off by just 5 percent from 2019, the year before the closure of the sector back in 2020. Similarly, data indicate arrivals through the Montego Bay airport in May are 9 percent less than in April, some 5 percent lower than in May 2019.
The April and May figures mark a major about turn for the sector. January saw 131,730 stopover arrivals, down 45 percent from the 216,509 they came in 2019 the JTB data shows, with 162,882 arrivals for February, down 36 percent from the 220,046 in 2019.

Jamaica’s tourism recovery slowed in January & February

Jamaica’s tourism recovery slowed in the first two months of 2022, as indicated by airport traffic passing through the country’s two international Airports shows.
The Sangster International Airport handled a total of 274,700 incoming and outgoing passengers in February 2022, just 2.7 percent ahead of the 267,300 in January 2022, but total passenger movements in February 2022 was 67.6 percent of the 406,400 handled in February 2019 and 64.3 percent of the 426,700 passengers handled in February 2020. The Montego Bay Airport handled just 75,600 passenger movements in February 2021, following the reopening of the country to international travel in June of 2020.
For the first two months of 2022, total passenger movements through the Sangster International Airport, increased 209.2 percent, from 175,300 in 2021 to 542,000 and representing 64 percent of the 846,200 passenger movements handled in the first two months of 2019, according to Aeroportuario del Pacifico, which manages the airports in Montego Bay and Kingston, report shows.
The Kingston Norman Manley International Airport recorded a decrease of 15 percent in February this year from January, from 91,200 to 77,500 total incoming and outgoing passengers in February 2022, well off the 122,600 passenger movements in February 2020, but up from just 30,100 passengers in February 2021. For the first two months of 2022 total passengers passing through Kingston grow by 114.1 percent, from 78,800 in 2021 to 168,700 in 2022.
The growth for the island slowed markedly from a fall of 20.6 percent in December last year and 25 percent in November compared to 2019.  Arrivals and departures of 281,115 in December 2019 slipped to 223,333 in December 2021, but last year December was well up on 2020 at just 90,164.
Sounds out of the industry suggest that March is performing very well. “The tourism sector is back on track with another record weekend of stopover arrivals, with close to 35,000 visitors coming through the Sangster and Norman Manley international airports combined, between Thursday, March 10 and Sunday, March 13,” Minister Bartlett stated recently.
This number tops the combined 30,000 arrivals the previous weekend, with Sangster International accounting for 27,000 visitors. Jamaica continues to be the destination of choice in the Caribbean and based on projections, Minister Bartlett says “we expect that this March will be the strongest in terms of arrivals since the pandemic disrupted worldwide tourism in 2020 and we expect in excess of 200,000 coming to Jamaica for the month.”

Continued improvement in tourist arrivals

Stopover visitor arrivals to Jamaica jumped 39.5 percent to 970,435 for the first nine months of 2021, from 695,721 in the first nine months last year and is 52 percent below the 2,020,508 stopovers arrivals in the first nine months of 2019.

Tourism is Jamaica’s bouncing back.

September quarter arrivals grew to 437,890 from 114,402 last year but are 30.5 down on the 629,825 in 2019, a significant improvement over the 45.6 percent drop in the June quarter over 2019.
Preliminary data show that the improvement in arrivals continued into October and November, with the latter figures suggesting that the decline against 2019 is now down to just 22 percent.
For Jamaica, stopover arrivals in September this year fell 30.4 percent to 100,654 from 144,583 in September 2019 but are 251 percent ahead of the 28,648 arrivals in September last year, shortly after the industry reopened to international visitors. Data from the Jamaica Tourist Board show that the September numbers are 34.4 percent lower than the 153,360 stopovers in August.
Unfortunately, the Jamaica Tourist Board continues the bad practice of not releasing arrivals numbers to the public on a timely basis. Accordingly, neither October nor November numbers are yet released. The tourist board should move to a two-pronged approach to releasing the data. First, they should provide the country with the arrival numbers and later release the report as they currently do.