JIS News

Tourism Minister, Ed Bartlett, has said that the 2007/08 winter tourist season holds “great prospects” and called on Jamaicans to lend their full support in making the season one of the country’s best.
Minister Bartlett, who was speaking at a reception held yesterday (Dec. 15) at the Rose Hall Resort in Montego Bay, to mark the start of the season, said that with billions invested in rooms and attractions, the prospects for the 2007/08 season and beyond, are very exciting. These investments, he said, have created direct employment for tens of thousands of Jamaicans, with even more persons being employed indirectly.
“We are starting at a point where we have just about 27,000 rooms in the country and we are employing somewhere in the region of 40,000 people directly and about 150,000 persons indirectly. We are also starting at a point when there are some $54 billion of investment funds working, which will culminate in the completion of more rooms and more activities and attractions before 2009,” he stated.
He noted that after 2009, “we are looking at another $48 billion, which is already on stream and in the process of design and development, so that the tourism industry, starting from now onward, will be bringing to the table somewhere in the region of $102 billion of investment in this country”.
According to the Minister, this level of investment is significant “because it represents pretty close to 30 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and will have tremendous impact on growth for the country and in development, not only of the capital formation but certainly to create jobs and to provide revenue and income for all.”
In the meantime, he stressed that every effort will be made to lift the level of service in the industry by an “aggressive approach to training and more training”.
“I believe that service is the basis on which our product differentiation will be predicated. To visit Jamaica is to be treated the best in the world and when you get here, you want to come back again and again and again,” he pointed out.
The Tourism Minister further commended the various stakeholders for their hard work over the last year. “The stakeholders have stepped up to the plate in terms of the refurbishing and the improvement of the standard and the quality and the look and feel of the properties across Jamaica,” he stated.
Earlier in the day, the Minister, along with tourism officials and new Mayor of Montego Bay, Charles Sinclair, welcomed the first visitors for the season, Irina and Allen Shvartsman from the United States.
The couple, who arrived at the Sangster International Airport on a flight from Philadelphia, was presented with gifts, while representatives from the Hatfield Cultural Group entertained with a selection of folk songs.
The Tourism Minister and Director of Tourism, Basil Smith, then donned the Red Cap Porter’s uniform and helped to transport visitors’ luggage to waiting taxis and buses.
Activities for the day culminated with a free concert featuring some of the best of Jamaica’s reggae artistes at the Old Hospital Site in Montego Bay.The winter tourist season ends on April 15.

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