KINGSTON, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Faced with downturn in international tourist arrivals, Jamaica's tourism authorities turned target on the domestic market by offering special discounts for local people to visit some of the island's most popular resorts and attractions.
With the tourism promotion campaign called Experience Jamaica launched on Sunday, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) are trying to encourage local residents to book into hotels and visit attractions at discounted rates ranging from 20 percent to 50 percent.
The discounts are applicable to Jamaican residents only and are available from now until December 15.
While it is not the first time that discounts have been offered, it is the first time that the discounts are offered during the Winter Tourist Season, which is regarded as the high season for Jamaica's tourism sector.
Over the past three years discounts were offered during the slow summer months up to early December, just before the start of the busy Winter Tourist Season which runs from December 15 to April 1 the next year.
The domestic market thrust comes as fresh statistics from the JTB showed a 4.7 percent decline in international visitor arrivals in January compared with the same period last year.
The opposition party Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Spokesperson on Tourism Edmund Bartlett argued that the downturn, which is happening for the first time in four years, is now bordering on a major crisis since the winter tourist season is traditionally the best season and registers the most tourist arrivals for the country.
Bartlett, who is a former tourism minister of Jamaica, contended that there has been a consistent decline in overseas visitors since October 2012.
However, the JTB denied that the early discount offer has any connection with the downturn in overseas visitors during the high season. Instead, it said in a statement issued on Monday that "the Jamaica Tourist Board values the importance of domestic tourism, and to ensure that Jamaican people benefit from the local tourism product, the organization has joined with tourism partners offering special discounts to persons living on island."
"The campaign offers industry partners the opportunity of showcasing their products and services to the Jamaican client," it said.