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Story Highlights

  • Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says Jamaica’s tourism product is the best in the Caribbean and so the country has no need to fear the opening up of Cuba.
  • Mr. Bartlett was addressing representatives of the Montego Bay Red Cap Porters Association at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay on March 18.
  • The Tourism Minister said he has always been “mystified” by suggestions that Jamaica will be affected by a resurgent Cuba, following the restoration of diplomatic ties with the United States last year.

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says Jamaica’s tourism product is the best in the Caribbean and so the country has no need to fear the opening up of Cuba.

“Look, we have the best product in the Caribbean, bar none,” Mr. Bartlett said. “When you look at our culture, it’s powerful. When you look at our people…they are not only incomparable but they are our biggest asset…an iconic asset,” he noted further.

Mr. Bartlett was addressing representatives of the Montego Bay Red Cap Porters Association at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay on March 18.

The Tourism Minister said he has always been “mystified” by suggestions that Jamaica will be affected by a resurgent Cuba, following the restoration of diplomatic ties with the United States last year.

He argued that “if anything, both countries now have an opportunity where they could effectively feed off each other.”

“I can state quite clearly today that I personally do not see a threat,” Mr. Bartlett said.

“Our biggest market is the United States where we currently get a two per cent share. Even if Cuba picks up a five per cent share there is still a 93 per cent share out there to be had. Both the United States and Canada are lucrative markets that we have the tools to compete in with anybody, including Cuba,” he said.

Mr. Bartlett noted that with Jamaica’s geographical proximity to Cuba, there is the opportunity for the countries to work together “and sell two extraordinary products to potential visitors worldwide.”

“We are two countries with a very strong cultural heritage. You cannot go to Cuba and don’t go to the Tropicana to experience their culture in all its glory. The same way you can’t come to Jamaica and don’t sample our jerk cuisine and don’t listen to our music. We both have our own unique strengths and could do some special packages together,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Minister said he is engaged in consultations with sector players and stakeholders to chart the way forward for the industry.

“My job as the new Minister is to look at all the programmes…all the projects that are on stream…and to build on them,” he said.

He noted that the Ministry will look for opportunities in the non-traditional markets, including the Scandinavian countries and other sections of Europe.

“We will also be aggressively pursuing the Latin American market,” Mr. Bartlett added.

“Our aim is for growth and we just want to ensure we have a presence in all the important markets so we can get the message out there about our beautiful country,” he said.