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Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says 90 per cent of planned investments for the industry is still on stream, despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the recent official opening of the $253-million rehabilitated Guava Ridge to Content Gap road in East Rural St. Andrew, Mr. Bartlett said increasing hotel rooms to 25,000 by 2023 is still on track, a 1,700-room facility will be constructed in St. James; 2,000 rooms are planned for Green Island in Hanover, and a tourism development programme for Kingston and Port Royal is still on.
“The faith and confidence in destination Jamaica is still there by the investors of tourism in the world, even though we are all challenged by COVID-19 at this time,” the Minister said.
Mr. Bartlett said with 42 per cent of visitors’ expenditure going to food, areas like Content Gap and the Blue Mountains are “central to us in this COVID and post-COVID period of tourism”, and the Ministry will be placing more emphasis on the supply side of the industry, with farmers and manufacturers being priorities.
“We are going to spend more time with our farmers and our manufacturers as we seek to enable more of the consumption needs of tourism,” he said.
Mr. Bartlett told the audience that he is excited at the “broadening” of more agricultural produce from the surrounding communities.
He informed that the Content Gap square is being considered for a “retail and entertainment experience”.
“I want to enable the local people to do conversion from raw material into added value, and finished goods,” the Minister said, adding that a project engineer from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) will be collaborating with the community for design work for the area to be placed on various advertising platforms to showcase their offerings to the global community.