JIS News

Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, has announced that ground will be broken for a Convention Centre, in Montego Bay, St. James, in January 2009.
Speaking recently at the eighth annual anniversary banquet and fund-raiser of the Florida-based Fellowship New Testament Church of God, at the Plantation Holiday Inn Hotel, in the United States of America, the Minister said the project, to be implemented over a five-year period, would facilitate conferences, rallies and similar events.
He explained that Government and stakeholders are looking at under-explored possibilities for development, that could further attract niche markets of tourism. These include faith-based sports, culinary, health and wellness and eco-tourism.
Faith based tourism, the Minister explained, could be an important aspect of Jamaica’s tourism product, as this was a US$18 billion industry, with over 300 million travellers worldwide.
While faith based tourism was driven by missionary travel, Mr. Bartlett said that this specialised area of the industry also participated in leisure vacations, adventure trips, entertainment programmes and cruises. Those travellers were also volunteers doing charity work in various communities, such as building schools, refurbishing and renovating structures, and caring for the sick, elderly and indigent persons over a period of time, he added.
The Minister said that through a Faith Based Committee, plans were already in place to promote the island as a gospel music destination, as well as encouraging the development of attractions that would meet the demands of the target group.
Mr. Bartlett urged nationals in the Diaspora to make their island home their vacation destination, “and invite your friends to come along.” He told them that their exciting experiences, beauty of the country, and spirit of the people would enable Jamaicans to be the best marketers.
The Minister said that while the Jamaican economy was under stress from the current financial meltdown, “the greatest hope for survival is tourism, because of its resilience.”
Proceeds from the event will provide support for community projects undertaken by the church members throughout South Florida, as well as provide assistance for less fortunate Jamaicans in the Diaspora.

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