Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says the South American market is growing into one of the biggest and most lucrative in the world, with Brazilians alone spending US$11.5 billion in the United States (US) last year.
In an interview with JIS News following a reception ceremony for the LATAM flight crew at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St. James, on December 2, the Minister said Jamaica has been successfully making forays into Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Paraguay, Ecuador and Bolivia, “making us a major player in all of the Americas and a regional powerhouse in our own right”.
He pointed out that the Latin American tourism market has been growing at a steady rate and that, thanks to the worldwide web, there is an expanding appetite, particularly among the millennials, to explore beyond their own borders and experience, first-hand, the world that they see when they log in.
Bartlett contended that it should also be noted that studies have shown that, on average, Latin American travellers are taking nearly five trips per year and their average leisure trip duration is 10 days.
This, he said, is more than any other country, including the US, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, Japan and Australia.
“I have seen a recent study which showed that Brazilians and Argentineans are taking the longest trips of anyone across the globe, at 11.1 and 12 days per trip on average, respectively,” Tourism Minister added.
“We have been trying to get LATAM Airlines to be a part of the equation for some time now. We knew that once we accomplished that, then the market would be there for the taking. We now have them committed to three flights per week into Montego Bay, which is a very big deal,” he said.
Bartlett said that Jamaica’s ties with the Spanish-speaking region of the globe go back over 600 years, adding that had it not been for the intervention of the British, “we would be speaking Spanish fluently as our native language”.
“Our historical connection with Latin America is also cemented through the Liberator, Simón Bolívar, whose statue stands as a sentinel at Heroes Circle in Kingston, and the Simón Bolívar Cultural Centre in Kingston is a treasured source of knowledge,” the minister noted.