JIS News

Today is being celebrated worldwide as World Tourism Day, under the theme “Tourism: Celebrating Diversity”. This theme is appropriate because diversity is one of the driving forces behind tourism, as it creates stronger ties with the people of other countries. It is therefore an undisputed catalyst for building understanding, fostering social inclusion and promoting higher standards of living.
If there is one country in the Caribbean which typifies diversity, it is Jamaica. There is diversity in our tourism product, in our culture, in our people. Indeed, our national motto says it all – “Out of Many, One People.”
Over the 30 years since World Tourism Day was first introduced, this observance has been a focal point during which people pause to consider tourism related socio-economic, cultural and political issues. Here in Jamaica, we must focus on ensuring that we maintain the conditions which have made our country one of the most desirable tourism destinations in the world. Today, I can say with a great deal of satisfaction that Jamaica is the leading destination in the Caribbean, showing the highest level of growth in this recession, which is the worst the world has seen in 80 years. Tourism therefore plays a critical role as the engine of growth in our country.
But we need to strive for even greater growth in visitor arrivals, in order to secure our employment levels in the industry, and continue to make significant contributions to our foreign exchange earnings.
We in the Ministry of Tourism have sought to provide an enabling framework for the sustainable development of the industry through the strengthening of policies and incentives, and our Government has provided, at great cost, a stimulus package to give further capacity to the industry. In so doing, we are facilitating partnerships which will provide synergies for growth.
Today, I want to use this opportunity to speak directly to our partners who make up the tourism family: those who provide accommodation; those who provide transportation; those who provide the food and beverages; the attractions providers; the entertainment providers; our arts and crafts people and the numerous services that are necessary to maintain the quality of our tourism product and the competitiveness of “Destination Jamaica”.
We know there are challenges but if we are to secure our future, we must all redouble our commitment to the industry.
We have to commit to combining a healthy concern for people and respect for the environment with economic success … that is how, together, we will make the tourism industry strong and sustainable for future generations.
I also want to appeal to my fellow Jamaicans – men, women, and young people to do everything possible to rekindle true kinship and respect for self so that we can cultivate a genuine “hospitality culture.”
Then and only then will we really add value to the slogan – “Jamaica, Once You Go, You Know”.

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