JIS News

Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, is optimistic that the sector will be able to withstand the impact, which the global economic downturn is expected to have on the industry.
Speaking at a media forum on issues affecting the industry, at the Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC), in Kingston, on December 11,
Mr. Bartlett said that while the industry would be impacted globally, some destinations should be able to rebound from the downturn.
“The industry, globally, is poised to face an economic tsunami. The good thing about some destinations may be their own ability to find higher elevations. The quality of the product that you have, the services that you have, and the value of the services that you offer, are going to be critical in getting you to those elevated areas. Jamaica, as a destination, does have much to commend in that regard. So, we know the tsunami is coming, but we are working hard at getting to the higher levels,” he said.
Mr. Bartlett predicated this optimism on what he said, is a framework for the creation of “quality experiences” for visitors to the island. He advised that Jamaica’s product has been enhanced through the provision of adequate “high quality rooms” at “good prices,” and the availability of some 157 attractions, more than double the number in the rest of the region, combined.
“Additionally, we have good infrastructure, two fine, world class airports, and an improved road network to link our visitors from the point of entry, to the various hotels across the main resort areas,” the Minister said.
Responding to reported concerns by industry stakeholders that he was being overly optimistic about Jamaica’s fortunes, and may not be prepared to take the country beyond the crisis, Mr. Bartlett dismissed this, emphasising that the Ministry and the administration, are “beyond that, in terms of our thinking on the matter.”
“We are preparing ourselves to deal with it. What we in the Ministry of Tourism are doing, when we go out and secure a million air seats, we are putting ourselves in a position that if you, as a potential visitor, want to fly into Jamaica, you can,” he said.
The Minister said information available indicates that approximately 63.5 million Americans travel to destinations other than the Caribbean, annually. He argued that, in light of the economic downturn, and with a possible 20 to 30 per cent fall-off in this figure, “you will have at least 50 million Americans remaining, who will still fly to destinations.”
“What we have to worry about is to create the kind of product, and to lift the quality of our product, and to create the infrastructure that will support that movement,” he explained, adding that the country is doing that.
The Minister said that during a recent discussion, which Tourism Director, John Lynch, and himself had with one of the industry’s international stakeholders, they were advised that, while the region would suffer, Jamaica, the Dominion Republic, and Cancun in Mexico, would be less affected.
“This is simply because we have freshened up ourselves. In other words, we have renewed our product, and so we have new, exciting products. They spoke about the fact that we are advertising better and smarter than everybody else. Consequently, they feel that we are not going to suffer as greatly,” Mr. Bartlett said.
He warned, however, that revenue yields for hoteliers might be reduced, because “we are in a buyer’s market,” hence the possibility of discounts on the prices of products offered.
“So, that is one of the big reasons, why we have been very responsive, in terms of the stimulus package, because we recognise that yields are going to fall, and we do not want to have the industry at a grave disadvantage,” the Minister said.
“Remember, 60 per cent of the value of the experience is the service; what we need to do is keep what we have. And that is why we are going hard to increase the numbers, recognising that we may get lower prices. But, we will, at least, keep what we had last year, in terms of the flows,” Mr. Bartlett added.