Feature
Mystic Mountain Jamaica
Photo: Garwin Davis, Contributed

Story Highlights

  • Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says that 2019 was another successful year for tourism with the sector poised to generate record numbers in arrivals and earnings.
  • “In 2018, we welcomed 4.3 million visitors, which earned us US$3.3 billion and this year we are well on our way to surpassing this record achievement,” he tells JIS News.
  • “Jamaica is poised to generate some US$3.7 billion in tourism earnings for 2019 and total arrivals are looking equally promising,” he adds.

Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says that 2019 was another successful year for tourism with the sector poised to generate record numbers in arrivals and earnings.

“In 2018, we welcomed 4.3 million visitors, which earned us US$3.3 billion and this year we are well on our way to surpassing this record achievement,” he tells JIS News.

“Jamaica is poised to generate some US$3.7 billion in tourism earnings for 2019 and total arrivals are looking equally promising,” he adds.

Mr. Bartlett says that the Ministry is already gearing up for 2020 and beyond, where the growth trend is expected to continue.

He notes that cruise shipping over the next three years should regain the momentum from 2018. He points to the inaugural visit of the Symphony of the Seas –the world’s largest cruise ship – in May 2020, as a signal that “happy days will be here again.”

The Club Med 2 docks in Port Antonio on November 25

“Jamaica is a part of the western Caribbean itinerary and once Grand Cayman sorts out the docking situation, where they would once again be able to facilitate the Royal Caribbean Oasis-class vessels, then our numbers will climb back up,” Mr. Bartlett points out.

“The inaugural visit of the Symphony of the Seas is a solid sign that our cruise situation is about to change for the better and where our ports, including the newest addition, Port Royal, should do very well,” he notes.

He says that tourism will also benefit significantly from the addition of rooms.

“Such is the demand for our tourism product that our current room stock of some 33,000 is expected to double in the next 10 years,” he notes.

Minister Bartlett, in highlighting the importance of tourism to national progress, says the industry continues to be one of Jamaica’s fastest-growing and most resilient economic sectors, which promotes inclusion and diversity and is therefore ideally suited as a vehicle to improve the livelihoods of the populace and facilitate development in communities across the island.

He notes that 50 years ago, total visitor arrivals stood at 407,105, which added US$93.5 million to the local coffers.

In addition, a mere 5,619 rooms dotted the landscape and the sector was seasonal.

Today, we are leveraging tourism as a catalyst for socio-economic empowerment as we build a sustainable sector that benefits our citizens as much as it benefits our visitors,” he says.

Mr. Bartlett notes that the sector consistently demonstrates a high level of profitability and dependability, directly employing over 117,000 Jamaicans, while generating indirect jobs for another 250,000 persons.

Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, greets passengers arriving on a recent American Airlines flight from JFK Airport in New York, at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.

Between accommodations, food and beverage services, travel services, recreation and entertainment, and transportation, tourism generates nearly 9.2 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” he says.

“Leading local and global hotel brands continue to show great interest in Jamaica, with Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the tourism sector projected at US$470 million for 2019,” he adds.

Mr. Bartlett says that the overall success of tourism augurs well for massive job creation, adding that the sector also holds great promise for the linked goods and services industries such as restaurants, craft, agriculture, entertainment, transportation, attraction and tours.

He says that this, in turn, will boost consumption of local goods and the generation and retention of the tourism dollar in local economies.

President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Diane Edwards, for her part, says that the agency is looking to further boost tourism’s performance by attracting increased investments as well as broadening Jamaica’s global brand appeal.

This, she notes, is in keeping with the ‘Five Pillars of Tourism Growth strategy, which entails: tapping into new markets; developing new products; promoting investment; building new partnerships; and the renewal of human capital.

Ms. Edwards says that the local tourism sector “has seen some phenomenal numbers over the past three years and we expect this trend to continue into 2020 and beyond.”

She notes that in 2017 “visitor arrivals grew by 13 per cent, with expenditure passing US$3 billion, and now we have seen where those figures have been surpassed in both 2018 and 2019.”

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