Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has announced the creation of the Tourism Advocacy Council, comprised of non-tourism stakeholders.
Making the announcement during an address to the online annual general meeting of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) on September 18, Mr. Bartlett said the Council will be led by Dr. Wesley Hughes.
“(It) will consist of bankers, representatives from the Jamaica Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association (JMEA) and other sectors that rely and work with tourism in our capacity as the catalyst and the driver of economic change in the country,” the Minister explained.
Mr. Bartlett noted that the Council emerged from meetings he held with the non-tourism partners.
“The purpose is not just for us to create and craft a new narrative, but also to have another voice, and a voice that is not necessarily a tourism voice, but a voice that the nation understands, because of the background and history of economic growth and development activities,” the Minister said.
He described Dr. Hughes as someone who had to deal with the country’s economy over a period of time as a former head of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Financial Secretary and Chief Executive Officer for the PetroCaribe Fund.
The Tourism Advocacy Council is being created against the background of the sector’s significant contribution to Jamaica’s economy.
“Tourism has consistently been the leading generator of foreign exchange; generating over 50 per cent of total foreign exchange annually,” he said.
He pointed out tourism drives 15 per cent of construction, 10 per cent of banking and finance, 20 per cent of manufacturing and 21 per cent of utilities as well as agriculture and fisheries.
Highlighting the industry’s role as a driver of job creation and economic growth, the Minister said the sector contributes directly to 9.5 per cent of gross domestic product and generates approximately 354,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs.
“Tourism is undoubtedly indispensable to the country’s macroeconomic stability. The longer the sector takes to rebound, the more pronounced its economic consequences will be,” Mr. Bartlett added.