Restructuring of Tourism Ministry Almost Complete – Dr. Mcneill


State Minister in the Ministry of Industry and Tourism, Dr. Wykeham McNeill has said that the restructuring of the Ministry and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) was almost complete and that the anticipated annual savings from this activity was approximately US$2.5 million.
He was responding to questions posed by Opposition Members of Parliament during Wednesday’s (April 7) sitting of the Standing Finance Committee at Gordon House.
Dr. McNeil explained that the increase in the allocation to overseas offices was due to the shift in the exchange rate and that the Ministry would do everything possible to meet the targets that had been set.
He said that despite the fact that there was a decline in the European market, significant marketing had been done in the continent and this was still being manifested in the arrivals. Dr. McNeill assured that the JTB would be exploring avenues to further re-engage the European market.
According to the Minister, last year, some $3 million was spent on attracting tourists from that region, perhaps the highest amount ever spent on that market.
He noted that the ‘Undiscovered Jamaica’ programme which was established last year had been very successful to date, focusing on those parts of Jamaica outside of the usual tourist attractions, and smaller properties. To this end, the JTB and the Ministry was working closely with the Association of Villas and Apartments to increase their share of the market, he said.
Dr. McNeill indicated that areas such as Falmouth would be taken into consideration for heritage tourism and that the country would also be marketed from a community base, involving areas such as Maroon Town, “so that people who come here can see the diversity of our culture, our entertainment and all that we have to offer”.
Where craft trading was concerned, Dr. McNeill said the JTB was looking at a model to develop that side of the industry in important areas such as infrastructure and product diversity. The Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), and the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC) were putting together a plan to address some of these issues and a pilot plan was to be put in place, he informed.
Dr. McNeill further informed that the Port Antonio craft market was 85 per cent complete and that negotiations were in progress for the completion of the market.
Industry and Tourism Minister, Aloun Ndombet-Assamba recently described the sector as the new growth engine for the economy. “Today it is no longer sugar or bauxite or banana which is our main earner of foreign exchange, it is tourism. The industry has moved from being a peripheral enterprise to a powerful sector holding centre stage in our country as it does in many other countries,” the Minister pointed out.
She also said it was in the interest of Jamaicans, that the Master Plan for sustainable tourism was developed through much consultations and meetings with tourism representatives, community groups and organizations. “The tourism master plan therefore represents the best ideas of all our people for the way forward for the tourism industry,” Mrs. Assamba noted.
The plan, which was recently approved by Cabinet, will be implemented through a collaborative approach that will involve the public and private sectors, civil society and communities. The main recommendations of the plan cover five key objectives – growth based on a sustainable market position, enhancement of the visitor experience, community based development, the building of an inclusive industry, and environmental sustainability.

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