Russian tourist arrivals triple as Jamaica hunts fresh market frontiers

Senior Advisor and Strategist in Ministry of Tourism, Delano Seiveright (left), is pictured with Chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) Godfrey Dyer (centre); and Sandals Resort Senior Director, Wayne Cummings, at a cocktail reception for tourism stakeholders at the Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) trade show, Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James, on September 9. (Photo: Garwin Davis, JIS)

More than three times as many Russian tourists have visited Jamaica in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period last year.

Senior Advisor and Strategist at the Ministry of Tourism Delano Seiveright noted that just under 3,000 Russian tourists visited the island between January and the end of June this year compared to roughly 630 for the same period in 2018.

According to Seiveright, much of this is attributable to new regular nonstop flights between Moscow and Montego Bay by PegasTouristik/Nordwind, which commenced service on October 26th last year.

“It effectively brings to light a perfect and very positive manifestation of Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett’s aggressive airlift and new markets vision and actions,” Seiveright remarked.

Nordwind Airlines, owned by Russian tourist conglomerate PegasTouristik, has been ramping up its nonstop service from Moscow to Montego Bay (Photo: underconsideration.com)

The senior strategist’s comments were a welcomed boost to the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association’s (JHTA) premier trade event, Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett is currently participating in the 23rd Session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) General Assembly in Saint Petersburg, Russia – where he is also slated to meet with a number of Russian and European tourism stakeholders.

Seiveright contended that the rapidly growing success of the Russian tourist growth push is also attributable to actions on the Foreign Affairs front, highlighting the importance of aligned government strategy.

The Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James (Photo contributed)

“In September last year, the Governments of Jamaica and Russia signed a reciprocal agreement to waive the visa requirement for travel to their respective countries. The agreement allows Jamaicans and Russians to spend up to 90 days per year for tourism, cultural exchange or business purposes. This was a major step in the right direction.”, Seiveright argued.

In the 2018 winter tourist season, Jamaica welcomed 3,156 Russian tourists, a marked uptick from 940 in 2016 and 1,018 in 2017.

According to Russian government statistics, 15 million of its citizens travelled overseas for tourism purposes, with the bulk of that visiting countries bordering Russia in Europe and Asia.

“We have full planes from Moscow, Russia. This year Pegas/Nordwind has increased [its] seat configuration to accommodate 100 more passengers and there is a strong interest from a major Russian tour operator to put on a very large plane with over 400 seats,” Seiveright further contended at JAPEX 2019.

“The Ministry of Tourism and it’s Jamaica Tourist Board have also further cemented relations with relevant stakeholders including PegasTouristik/Nordwind to further promote Jamaica in Russia resulting is many more positives,” he said.

Seiveright declared that a similarly aggressive new market growth strategy is also bearing fruit with the continent of South America being given increased attention.