It is an honour for me to participate in this launch of the Business Brand for Jamaica.
Jamaica has long been recognized as one of the world’s most formidable brands. It is a brand that continues to be fueled by our nation’s outstanding achievements in so many areas.
In the creative industries, including music, art and culture where our entertainers are celebrated wherever in the world they go.
In sports, where our athletes dominate the world stage;
I must also mention our food which is featured on the menus of eminent restaurants globally. In all corners of the world, the Jamaica brand continues to inspire and influence cultures and forms of expression – whether in film, literature or music. Our brand equity does not stop there.
We have succeeded in establishing ourselves as a foremost tourism destination.
Last year, we achieved record tourist arrivals, exceeding 3 million, for the first time.
We were also named world’s leading cruise destination at the recent World Travel Awards ceremony.
This performance is supported by the expansion of the industry with increasing investments by both local and foreign investors in the accommodations sub-sector and luxury resort developments.
This will lead to growth in the island’s room stock by 40% by 2010. We are a nation known for our super models, super athletes, super entertainers and majestic landscapes.
We have given icons and legends to the world; such as Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Herb McKenley, George Headley, Sherone Simpson, Donald Quarrie, Merlene Ottey, Louise Bennett, Asafa Powell and Courtney Walsh, to name a few.
From fashion to fine arts, music to cuisine, our unique culture stands out. We must continue to share our genius with the world.
Let us be equally known as world class designers, men and women who carve and weave, trainers, health professionals, educators, producers, lawyers, scientists and entrepreneurs.
And if we are still not convinced of the value of brand Jamaica, we need only to look to the many international powerhouses that have leveraged our brand for economic gain.
Let me share a ready example.
According to the American City Business Journal, the Sports Brand – Puma, posted a 48% jump in profits for July 2004 following that company’s Jamaica campaign and its association with our Olympic athletes.
Look at the high number of products on the international market that use our colours and imagery on their labelling and packaging.
Examine the frequency with which our music is used in global advertising to increase brand appeal and profitability.
These initiatives, ladies and gentlemen, bear testimony to the invaluable ‘Brand Jamaica’ asset that our nation possesses.
These significant achievements speak to the more creative and widely celebrated side of Jamaica.
What this Business Brand Jamaica Campaign will do, is highlight another side of Jamaica, namely, the business side that is energized by our creative power.
It is designed to expand the profile of Jamaica from a cultural icon and leisure destination to one where business also plays a driving role.
We are saying to the world that today’s Jamaica means business – and we are open for business.
At this the launch of the local Brand Jamaica Campaign, I want to encourage Jamaicans at all levels — individuals, groups or companies, from the smallest to the largest, to harness this potential and apply our natural talents, creativity.
Our drive for excellence, reliability and integrity are critical in ensuring its success.
We must leverage our assets and competitive advantages.
Jamaica will soon have two world class international airports, with the expansion and upgrading programme now in progress; which is due to be completed in 2008.
We already have an advanced telecommunications infrastructure. Work is on-going in upgrading our highways and improving our islandwide road network.
We are also expanding the port of Kingston, which recently doubled its capacity and is well on the way to qualifying as a world mega-transshipment hub, making it even more attractive to international shipping companies.
Jamaica continues to command the world’s attention as a premier investment destination. Between 2000 and 2005, on average, U.S. 581 million dollars was invested in Jamaica by international firms.
This strong investment performance comes against the backdrop of an equally favourable rating of our country as a business friendly environment.
Jamaica is currently ranked 21st as an inward investment location by the United Nations Council on Trade and Development – UNCTD.
The World Bank and International Finance Corporation Report, last year, ranked Jamaica 10th in terms of the ease of starting a business.
A.T. Kearney Incorporated, a business rating agency in the United States, says Jamaica is first in the Caribbean as a near shore destination for information and communication technology.
Jamaica is also ranked ‘number one’ in the Caribbean for e-readiness for the inclusion of technology in government services, by the United Nations, in a study completed in 2005.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the other side of brand Jamaica that we now need to showcase to the world. And, what better time than March 2007 to begin, when the eyes of the world are focused on the Caribbean?
During Cricket World Cup 2007, we will interact with an estimated 13,000 additional visitors to Jamaica.
We in the Caribbean will enjoy global media exposure estimated at U.S. 102 million dollars. The region will be the focus of some 1.8 billion viewers worldwide, over 58 days.
From a business perspective, this will provide exposure for brand Jamaica into previously under-tapped and non-traditional markets, such as India, South Africa and Ireland.
It presents an unprecedented opportunity to attract high yield tourism, accelerate investment and increase our exports to these and other markets.
The Jamaica promotions corporation, JAMPRO has put in place a number of key initiatives to ensure that we maximize the business opportunities from cricket world cup 2007.
One such initiative, the Caribbean Business Opportunity Services, links local suppliers of goods and services with international buyers.
To date, over 100 local companies are either engaged in competitive bidding or are negotiating contracts for local and international business arising from this service.
Another initiative, the Jamaica Investment Attraction Programme, is a targeted effort to accelerate relationships with qualified investment prospects.
It will see over 50 major targeted investors being hosted in the island during the period of the cricket tournament.
Integral to this strategy is a unique hosting programme facilitated by the Caribbean Business Club, which will showcase our goods, services and investment possibilities.
These initiatives, ladies and gentlemen, show that the government is actively using the occasion of cricket world cup 2007 to open new business ventures for Jamaica.
This opportunity to reposition business Brand Jamaica will be one of the greatest legacies of the hosting this international sporting event, there are many positives.
There is the upgrading of our world famous cricket ground – Sabina Park and the construction of the Trelawny multi-purpose stadium.
There is the infrastructural improvement work to our hospitals, health centres and transportation system. I will, however, just pause to say that, as we work to make these improvements, we know that people have been inconvenienced in their day-to-day activities.
We empathize and understand.
To the residents of the communities surrounding Sabina Park, the persons affected by work on the rose hall main road in Montego Bay and all other Jamaicans and visitors affected by development projects across the island, I ask of you, patience.
I urge you to think of the future benefits to be derived from these projects.
Let us remember today’s nuisance will soon become tomorrow’s delight.
Other positives coming from the repositioning of business brand Jamaica include, the benefits to individuals and communities, from the establishment of a structured bed and breakfast programme.
This programme will facilitate increased tourist arrivals and ensure that more Jamaicans will benefit.
Our human resource capability will also be enhanced following intensive tourism and hospitality training for craft and food vendors, tour guides, workers in ground transportation, the attractions sub-sector and airport-based personnel.
There has also been comprehensive training for 1200 volunteers charged with enhancing visitor experience and upgrading of skills in the security sector in areas such as venue and VIP security.
All of these are coupled with the clean up and beautification activities taking place across the island.
Many events are being staged by community groups and the increased pride and spirit that these will engender will ensure that the effects of cricket world cup 2007 will be a lasting heritage for all Jamaicans.
Jamaica is now well-positioned to market itself as a viable destination for event hosting and sports tourism.
In this regard, our attractiveness is enhanced by the ability to offer a year round venue for training, sporting tournaments and camps.
This will augur well for our hosting of the International Cricket Council Champions trophy competition in 2010.
Ladies and gentlemen, based on our enhanced capabilities, I am confident that our country is favorably positioned to successfully play its part in the hosting of that tournament.
The prospects for a country branding programme for Jamaica are without limits. As small as we are, Jamaica is part of a larger global community, the members of which compete for capital, investment, tourists, export markets and technical and financial assistance.
We expect that this business branding campaign will provide Jamaica with a crucial competitive advantage.
It will pave the way for enhanced economic benefits through increased investments, both those generated locally and those from overseas.
The business branding campaign will also serve to enhance the potential for increasing exports and foreign exchange earning.
It is therefore, truly an honour for me to launch the local roll out of the business brand Jamaica programme.
But this is just the beginning and the government cannot do it alone. Ultimate success of our efforts requires the involvement, commitment and support of each and every Jamaican.
It requires that the private sector must contribute by infusing the essence of the campaign into the delivery of its products, services, and marketing efforts.
It requires that the public sector must ensure that the values of the campaign are embedded in every aspect of our service.
It requires that the media must continue to publicize positive messages about our business brand Jamaica. It requires that every member of the public must embrace “Business Brand Jamaica” and the economic promise that lies at the heart of the programme.
The Brand Jamaica Campaign is about each and every one of us.
It is about the substantial role we play in determining the future of our nation.
I am reminded of this chorus we sang as children.
This little light of mine,I’m gonna let it shineThis little light of mine,I’m gonna let it shineLet it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.
Ladies and gentlemen, if each and every Jamaican commits to rekindling his or her own fire, working to his or her fullest potential, establishing his or her own light. then, if we all work together, imagine the energy and impact we can create!
Within that one beacon of Jamaican light are lightbeams of genius, lightbeams of confidence and determination, the lightbeam of creativity, and of success.
I am therefore confident that success will adorn our efforts.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is therefore my distinct pleasure to now officially declare this campaign launched. Today’s Jamaica means business.
God bless this beautiful land of ours; God bless our beautiful people.
I thank you.
It is an honour for me to participate in this launch of the Business Brand for Jamaica.