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Jamaica News - Real Estate - Tourism (January 31, 2005)
Jamaican tourism minister upbeat about industry prospects
Jamaican Industry and Tourism Minister, Aloun Ndombet Assamba, has expressed optimism at the prospects for further growth in the tourism sector for 2005. 

Minister Assamba said industry players were heartened by the high number of forward bookings, which should translate to high arrivals, while noting that for the period January to April 2004, Jamaica experienced the best winter tourist season ever with an increase of 9.5 percent over the previous season.

Minister Assamba was addressing a meeting of members of the diplomatic corps last week.

Turning to cruise ship arrivals, she said that although Jamaica did not see high arrival figures in 2004, as some of the other Caribbean destinations, the sector would be back on track this year, with the introduction of additional berthing facilities in Montego Bay, while some cruise lines had added Jamaica to their travel itinerary.

She also informed that a breasting dolphin, to accommodate larger vessels, was slated for completion in June, while a floating tender pier for pleasure boats and ships, would begin operating by next weekend.

Turning to development prospects for the industry, the Tourism Minister told the diplomats that recent investment in the sector by several major groups, should result in the addition of over 5,000 rooms to the hotel inventory over the next five years.

She noted that the magnitude of tourism investments over such a short period, and the heightened interest in the destination by both business and leisure travellers across the globe, was unparalleled. 

She said further, that the granting of most approved destination status to Jamaica by China was a major incentive to the sector, as it should significantly open up the country to the potentially large audience providing not only a valuable new source of tourism revenue but also a medium for enriching cross-cultural exchange. 

Furthermore, the Minister said, the introduction of several new attractions, the increase in airlift, infrastructural improvements, the implementation of the tourism master plan and major events, stood to further increase the development of the sector. 

Mrs. Assamba also used the opportunity to express sympathies to bereaved members of the corps, who had suffered loss of property or families during the tsunami, which affected sections of South East Asia and Africa.

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