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  • Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, has again cited the significant contribution of the sector, noting that it is currently leading Jamaica’s economic recovery programme.
  • He further pointed out that the industry contributed seven per cent growth in the economy last year.
  • Dr. McNeill was addressing a media launch and reception hosted by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), on April 1 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in Kingston, to celebrate its 60th Anniversary this year.

Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, has again cited the significant contribution of the sector, noting that it is currently leading Jamaica’s economic recovery programme.

“From April 2013 to March 2014, we had 2,007,175 stay over visitors (and) 1,240,484 cruise ship visitors, which earned in excess of US$2.1 billion in gross foreign exchange earnings for Jamaica,” the Minister informed.

He further pointed out that the industry contributed seven per cent growth in the economy last year. “No other sector offers the possibility of successful investment to entrepreneurs at all levels. It is truly an inclusive industry,” he asserted.

Dr. McNeill was addressing a media launch and reception hosted by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), on April 1 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in Kingston, to celebrate its 60th Anniversary this year.

The Minister said that given the vibrancy of Brand Jamaica, through sports and popular culture, the country expects the JTB to create the appropriate marketing strategies to increase Jamaica’s market share in this highly competitive global industry.

“We cannot take continued progress for granted. We are competing against the world in the most competitive industry. We also have our local problems, which can create a negative social impact on the industry…Given this reality, the JTB intends to celebrate its 60th Anniversary in a discussion with the Jamaican people about charting a way forward, as we seek to continue to diversify our product, improve our competitiveness and broaden the base of ownership to make the tourist industry even more inclusive,” he said.

For the period April to December 2015, the JTB will be staging a series of celebratory activities across the island as well as in the major source markets of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, to mark the milestone.

A notable event to take place is the Blue Mountain Awards, to be held in Montego Bay, St. James.

Director of Tourism, Paul Pennicook, who also spoke at the launch, praised the work of the Tour Group Operators and other stakeholders who contribute to the success of the tourist industry.

“These are the persons who sell travel on behalf of Jamaica. Many persons marvel that despite our challenges, Jamaica remains a top destination in the region. The event (awards ceremony) is our way of showing appreciation to the largest producers of tourism business for the destination,” he said.

Other commemorative activities will focus on raising awareness about the role that the JTB has played in national development. These include a roving exhibition which will be launched on May 7 in Montego Bay. The exhibition will be set up in Jamaica Library Service (JLS) parish libraries throughout the island.

There will also be a lecture series aimed at highlighting the history of tourism in Jamaica, and an academic seminar to discuss the future of tourism.

A Long Service Awards ceremony will be held for the staff of the JTB, at which  80 members who have served for between 10 and 40 years will be honoured.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pennicook said that the Meet the People programme of the JTB will be redesigned to make it more meaningful to visitors and to highlight aspects of Jamaica’s heritage that contribute to the success of the tourism industry.

This programme connects visitors of similar interests and professions with resident Jamaicans.

The JTB will also be participating in the Caribbean Tourism Organization Week to be held in New York from June 1 – 5 and in Canada during the month of October.

This event showcases the Caribbean’s diverse product offerings and offers networking opportunities for Caribbean government officials, private sector executives and industry partners.

The JTB will wind down its 60th anniversary activities by participating in the annual World Travel Market trade show, to be held in London from November 2 to 5 of this year.