JIS News

Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, has announced the commissioning of a comprehensive demand analysis of the sector, to determine its requirements.
This is being done to equip the relevant supporting industries, with the necessary information to enable them to produce and supply the hospitality industry accordingly.
Mr. Bartlett said this is key in enhancing the competitiveness of those industries, thereby ensuring that Jamaica’s tourism product remains solid in the global marketplace.
The Minister was speaking today (September 9), at a workshop, hosted by the Competitiveness Company, in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Economic Forum (WEF), at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, to present the findings of the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report for 2008.
Mr. Bartlett alluded to recent reports from the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), which listed St. Ann and St. James, among the country’s poorest parishes. He described this revelation as alarming, given the fact that both parishes had strong tourism products. He pointed out, however, that a supporting analysis of the situation presented an alarming statistic.
“The analysis tells us that, less than 50 per cent of the tourism dollar stays in Jamaica. And so, there is a strong element of what we call, leakage of the dollar, and to plug that hole, we have to strengthen the linkages,” the Minister stressed.
These linkages, he explained, are the sectors supporting the tourism sector, which include: agriculture, transportation, information and communication technology, food processing, craft development, furniture manufacturing, and education.
“We are concerned that too much of our tourism inputs are not provided locally. And, therein lies the answer for the poverty because the capacity to absorb the demand from tourism is not here. It is missing. And, we must build that capacity,” the Minister emphasised.
He lamented what he described as a lack of appreciation, knowledge, or understanding of how critical the strengthening of these areas is, to the sustainable development of tourism, as a key contributor to Jamaica’s economic development.
“The dollars can come in, as we have found that we had record Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) over the last five years. Nearly $500 billion came in over that period. But what happened? It has not generated one per cent of growth, simply because its been in and out of the country,” the Minister said.
“All inputs are imported. You are importing the human resources to manage and man the process, and what is left here is, perhaps, the minimal tax that you get from it, if any, the salaries and wages for the low end workers and the minor purchases that may take place in and around the community,” he added.
Mr. Bartlett cited the need for stakeholders in key sectors to be empowered to produce and supply in accordance with the needs of the tourism industry. He said there is need for the industry’s demands to be known, hence the commissioning of the study.
“I want to issue the challenge for us to create that capacity in the private sector, and for us to build capabilities to supply the industry, which has the potential and the ability to make Jamaica truly rich, and to make our people truly independent,” the Minister said.
Mr. Bartlett told JIS News, that groundwork on the study is expected to commence “shortly,” adding that a team from the Ministry is currently drafting the proposal to this end. He said the members hope to complete the document within 12 months.
He advised that the Ministry is seeking to contract the services of individuals and organisations with the requisite technical expertise to undertake the study, pointing out that several such, including the University of the West Indies (UWI), were being eyed as possible candidates.
“At the end of the study, we will make the report available to various sectors, so that they can see what we are talking about. Then, they can develop their own production schedule on the basis of that,” Mr. Bartlett said.