Jamaica News: Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says Jamaica’s hospitality industry is well positioned to generate the US$5-billion being targeted by 2021 under the 5x5x5 growth agenda.
This, he said, is based on activities associated with the five Tourism Linkages Networks – Gastronomy (food); Shopping; Entertainment and Sports; Health and Wellness; and Knowledge.
He was speaking during a press conference at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices on Tuesday (September 3), to provide an update on industry developments.
Mr. Bartlett said revenue inflows over the last 18 months show that the networks “are working”.
Jamaica generated earnings of US$3.3 billion in 2018 from a record 4.32 million visitors.
Between January and June 2019, the country welcomed approximately two million visitors, who spent some US$2 billion.
“The volume of foreign exchange… is the highest that Jamaica has ever seen. As a matter of fact, in the last year and half, we have brought more foreign exchange into Jamaica [through tourism] than we did in the 50 years before,” Mr. Bartlett said.
In addition to the US$5-billion revenue target, the 5x5x5 growth agenda also aims to attract five million tourists by 2021 and, in the process, increase total direct jobs to 125,000, and add 15,000 hotel rooms.
The growth agenda and networks are aligned with the five growth pillars focused on: tapping into new markets, developing new products, promoting investment, building new partnerships, and the renewal of human capital.
Mr. Bartlett said the networks are intended to be the “real drivers” of tourism growth because they represent the “passion of the people”.
He noted that in the area of gastronomy, the extent to which local foods have been incorporated into the industry has been unprecedented.
In relation to shopping, the Minister said while Jamaica is yet to fully tap into this “very lucrative area of tourism spend”, efforts are being made to provide a wider variety of goods to attract a greater number of aficionados from around the world.
“The focus of this initiative is about bringing more high-end spenders to Jamaica, who will ensure that more foreign exchange stays [here], but, more importantly, that more jobs are created for the Jamaican people… [by utilising] the creative and cultural assets that are inherent in the wonderful Jamaican products,” he added.
Regarding entertainment and sports, Mr. Bartlett pointed out that “we are seeing some events happening in Jamaica now that are bringing record crowds from overseas… [and generating] record spends”.
Among these is Reggae Sumfest 2019, the attendance for which he described as a “knockout”.
He noted that the patronage for this year’s staging of Carnival and Dream Weekend events also attracted thousands of people from across the world.
In the area of health and wellness, Mr. Bartlett said that “we are being aggressive, but we want to do more”, while for knowledge, “we have been having more meetings and conventions”.
“So Jamaica’s tourism is in a good place. We are building the capacity of our local people to benefit to a greater extent from the fruits of the tourism industry. That is what is going to make the enrichment of Jamaica a reality,” he said.
Source: JIS News