Jamaica to undertake islandwide public consultations on tourism sector
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar 27, CMC -The Jamaica government is to embark on a series of islandwide public consultations, to discuss issues relating to tourism and its impact on the national economy.
Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, who noted the sector has grown by 36 per cent over the past 30 years, against a total economic growth of 10 per cent, said it was important that all stakeholders know about the opportunities available within the sector.
“My vision is for Jamaica to be at the top of the list of aspirational destinations for travellers. We must put in place the framework to ensure Jamaica’s brand integrity and brand promise, both of which are critical to the success of the tourism industry.
“When tourism wins, we all win, because this very important industry is the key driver of the Jamaican economy. This sector generates direct employment for 175,000 Jamaicans and indirect employment for over 354,000 others, including hotel workers, farmers, craft vendors, entertainers, and transportation operators,” Bartlett added.
Bartlett said Jamaica’s reputation as a world class vacation destination, with numerous high-quality offerings, enables the country to remain competitive in the international marketplace.
“It also allows us to retain our envious position as the gem of the Caribbean with a 44 per cent visitor return rate, while keeping in mind that each visitor that comes to our island, is a potential brand ambassador. In this technological age, good news travels fast, but bad news travels even faster. Therefore, we must ensure that when a visitor leaves, it is with a world leading experience.”
Bartlett said crucial to the effective development of the tourism product are the Destination Assurance Councils (DACs) in the six resort areas, which are tasked with ensuring that the quality, standards, and integrity of Jamaica’s tourism product are maintained.
But he noted that except for Montego Bay, the DACs have not been as active as “we had hoped however, this is going to change in short order”.
Bartlett said that the tourism sector is the single largest contributor to Jamaica’s gross domestic product (GDP), as well as a main source of foreign revenues.
“It is multidimensional and multifaceted, interfacing with nearly every economic sector, including agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, finance, the creative and cultural industries, construction and many other services.
“To put it in perspective, tourism drives 15 percent of construction, 10 per cent of banking and finance, 20 per cent of manufacturing, and 21 per cent of utilities, agriculture, and fisheries,” he said, pointing to the quick recovery of the sector, following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We closed the year (2022) with some 3.3 million visitors and earnings of US$3.6 billion. Furthermore, 2023 is shaping up to be another record year with stopover arrivals for the first ten weeks at 558,119, a 55.6 per cent increase over the same period last year,” Bartlett said,stressing the importance of keeping the sector on a growth trajectory.
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