Tourism Minister Hon. Edmund Bartlett is encouraging players in the financial sector to explore the many investment opportunities available in the tourism industry to spur growth in the sector, which has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He stated that the multi-dimensional nature of Jamaica’s tourism sector offers countless opportunities for investment, in areas such as accommodation, human capital development, attractions, travel technology, agro-tourism, green projects, nutraceuticals, manufacturing and supporting infrastructure that improves the visitor experience.
Bartlett made these remarks yesterday during a meeting with members of the Caribbean Alternative Investment Association (CARAIA), at the AC Hotel by Marriott in Kingston.
“Investment will play a critical role in building out this new look tourism product, as it provides the funds necessary to construct and upgrade tourism projects essential to the development and growth of tourism capacity. The success of any tourist destination is dependent to a large degree on the nature of the facilities and service infrastructure available to visitors,” said the Minister.
During his presentation, the Minister also highlighted the findings of a recently conducted Tourism Demand Study, which found that there is a vast untapped market for high quality, fresh produce, which is essential to hotels, restaurants, and attractions.
Specifically, it states that the estimated total value of demand for agricultural products in the tourism sector is JA$39.6 billion. Food items in the poultry, meats, and seafood category alone account for 75% of this total value, while fruits accounted for another 10%.
According to the findings of the study, based on the value of expenditure on the importation of certain items, there were excellent opportunities for increased linkages with local producers. These items included products such as bed frames and headboards, chairs, pillows, sanitizers, standing lamps, toothpaste, towels, cantaloupe, iceberg lettuce, Irish potatoes, red jumbo onions, rice, and sweet corn.
The annual leakage due to imports was estimated to be J$65.4 billion in the manufacturing sector and between J$1.6 billion and J$5.0 billion in the agricultural sector.
The Minister also used the opportunity to highlight that despite the impact of the pandemic, the investment climate remains positive with 90% of the planned investments on target; in the year since the reopening of Jamaica’s borders (June 2020 to June 2021) the country welcomed over 837,000 stopover visitors with arrivals increasing an average of 20% each month since reopening; and many of our 170,000 directly employed tourism workers are now back on the job.
According to the data received: “189,001 Stopover visitors are expected for July 2021; Cruise arrivals are to resume in August 2021; For January to December 2021, it is projected that Jamaica will receive 1.7 million visitors; and For January to December 2021, the estimated Foreign Exchange Earnings is US$2.0 billion,” the Minister explained.
Looking further afield to 2022, Jamaica is projected to welcome 3.2 million visitors while earning US$2.7 billion in revenue. Also, by 2023 it is projected that Jamaica will welcome 3.7 million visitors and earn US$3.5 billion in revenue. By 2024 it is anticipated that the island will be back on track for 4.2 million visitors and US$4.0 billion in tourism revenue.
“Investment in tourism offers one of the best opportunities for Jamaica to recover and strengthen its economy…CARAIA can be a strong voice as we seek to promote, attract and facilitate productive investment in Jamaica’s tourism industry and in doing so, place us more effectively on the world’s alternative investment stage,” said Mr. Bartlett.