Yesterday we met Jamaica’s prime minister, the very elegant and stately Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, who officially opened the island’s first airport departure lounge in Montego Bay. It would seem this isn’t a big deal, another airport perk for the high and mighty business class traveler, but it’s a milestone because the people who are willing to pay for amenities like a lounge are just the people who bring the biggest investments into Jamaica.
Mrs Simpson Miller spoke about that—outlining plans to continue rebuilding Jamaica’s roadways and infrastructure, and she put out a request: come invest in our country and help us make it happen. This island is clearly a leader in many ways compared to its smaller neighbors, and things like this new lounge and the fact that tourism is up a whopping 8.7 percent over last year is cause to celebrate. This year it’s even better–12.5% up! It was just fifty years ago that Jamaica was a British colony, today the 189 mile long island is pulling in many new visitors and continuing to build attractions and hotels to accommodate them.
It’s a first in Jamaica to have a woman prime minister, and when I asked the people with us how we would recognize Mrs Simpson Miller, they said, ‘you’ll know. She’s the tallest and most elegantly dressed woman in the room.’ She is that, and warm and gracious, never stopping hugging people and turning on a beautiful smile at every photo op.
The country really does have a great deal of wonderful things going for it, namely a stable and steady government and a wealth of beautiful places to share with new visitors. One of the most exciting developments for this tourism season is that Trans Aero, a Russian airline has begun flying to Montego Bay and will be bringing Russians over for vacations.