Jamaica’s pristine beaches, unique culture and renowned music scene are calling to travellers from the Middle East.
That's the message from the Caribbean country as it made its debut at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai this week.
The island nation has seen a strong recovery since Covid-19, with tourist numbers back at about 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. The expectation is that these numbers will surpass 2019 levels in 2023, said the Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism for Jamaica, on the sidelines of the travel event.
Travellers keen on visiting the holiday hotspot can now book flights to Kingston and Montego Bay with Emirates. Operated by the airline’s codeshare partners, flights go via New York to the tropical archipelago.
“Tourism’s essence is connectivity — if people don’t travel then there’s no tourism and the means to travel by air is still number one. For Emirates to insert Jamaica in its ticketing system so people can actually begin to travel from Dubai to Jamaica through a US gateway is a major achievement,” Bartlett tells The National.
“If you were to follow the astronaut Armstrong when he landed on the moon, it was a single step for him but it was a huge step for mankind. This is a simple step, but it’s a huge step for Caribbean and Jamaica tourism. The objective in time is to get critical mass and then eventually to get Emirates direct flights,” says Bartlett.
For now, Emirates continues to promote Jamaica through curated Emirates Holidays where travellers can book flights and hotels to the island as a package.
Jamaica as a summertime escape
With year-round appeal, Jamaica could appeal to GCC travellers as a summer destination.
“Although winter for the cooler countries is the preference because it's nice and warm in Jamaica, summer is also useful because we do not have extreme summer temperatures. It is a good place to escape from the heat here in the Middle East and in other parts of Europe and Asia,” says Bartlett.
And there are no worries when it comes to travel restrictions, as there are no mandatory requirements other than those set by the airlines.
“What we’ve done is removed the mandatory requirements, we’ve removed all the emergency measures and the mandates are gone, but we’re insisting that you are responsible.”
Famed for its crystalline waters, soulful cuisine and with a soundtrack all of its own, Jamaica also guarantees a warm welcome to travellers, according to tourism officials.
“The iconic attraction of Jamaica is the people; our people are special and unique. Many countries can boast of having a confluence of cultures and ethnicities, but Jamaica is perfect in this because we have inbuilt in our DNA, a respect for diversity and embracing of other cultures.”
“We don’t regard ourselves as a piece of geography, we regard ourselves as a great idea and we say that a little piece of you is in Jamaica.”