- Bartlett projects more than 30,000 tourist arrivals for road march
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett is projecting that Sunday's road march boosted the country's visitor arrivals to more than 30,000.
Speaking to THE STAR after feting on the Carnival in Jamaica truck, Bartlett shared that 10,000 tourists landed in Montego Bay, St James, on Saturday, the largest number of visitors to enter the country on any single day since 2019.
"While we know the recovery is strong, we have been averaging 6,000-7,000 visitors per day, getting 10,000 on Saturday... ," he said. "What we're looking at when today's (Sunday's) figures are in, it's going to be well over 30,000 which will be a record weekend for our arrivals, so what we're saying is bringing back the activities and events is a good way of driving visitor arrivals, bringing more US dollars to keep the exchange rate stable, to keep jobs and to get a higher sense of joy and pleasure and hope."
Sunday's road march was Jamaica's first since 2019 as a result of the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several revellers told THE STAR that they were tired of being "cooped up inside" and saw the occasion as a way to live their life, do what makes them happy, and by all means make use of monies spent on costumes from 2019.
"The pent-up demand is reflecting itself," Bartlett said. "People want to be out again, they want to be themselves again, they want to enjoy clean, fresh, lovely entertainment and carnival, this year, gave them that opportunity. So what we saw is in fact a beginning of the full recovery of the entertainment sector."
He continued, "I decided I would ride one of the trucks and then I came off and just walked among the people to just see the responses on their faces, to listen to the conversations and to greet some as we went along. I'm telling you, the sense of hope is coming back and these are the things that break the psycho-social pain and create the good feeling that 'yes, we can do it again' and that helps to strengthen our democracy, helps to strengthen our confidence in the country, and it makes our people willing to bear the sacrifices of full recovery because they see that we are incrementally creating those better moments for them."
He further lauded carnival's benefit to smaller enterprises, considering several food and beverage vendors were out and about.