Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says despite the West Kingston unrest in May, there is confidence among the country’s overseas tourist market partners that Jamaica remains a safe vacation destination.
Speaking at the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica’s (PSOJ) Chairman’s Club Forum Breakfast at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, today (July 21), Mr. Bartlett said the country’s repeat visitor 52 per cent record, which ranked among the highest in the Caribbean, was among the factors informing the overseas partners.
“So, it became easier for them to translate the message that we wanted to be carried.that what was taking place in Jamaica was part of a wider transformation. That we, in fact, as a state, were taking a position to recover the country from criminals. They understood that, because they understand the need for them to do (the same) in some of their own countries,’ the Minister said
Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (right), engages (from left), Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, GraceKennedy Limited, Douglas Orane; Strategic Consultant and Principal of the United States-based human resources and statistical research firm, Gallup Organization, Jesus Rios; and Chairman, Jamaica Customer Service Association (JaCSA), Ilsa duVerney, during today’s (July 21) Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) Chairman’s Club Breakfast Forum, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston. Mr. Bartlett was the guest speaker.
The discussions between Jamaica’s tourism officials and their overseas partners in the key North American and European tourist markets, formed part of a US$10 million marketing and promotional initiative, spearheaded by Mr. Bartlett, which was pursued in the aftermath of the May unrest.
This undertaking was deemed necessary by the Minister to counter the negative international publicity which it generated for Jamaica, as well as prevent a possible US$300 million loss in foreign exchange earnings from tourism.
Noting challenges to Jamaica’s tourism sector, consequent on the May unrest, Mr. Bartlett said concern has resonated among local interests that “we had lost it,” adding that under normal circumstances, “we certainly couldn’t recover, certainly not within nine to eighteen months, in some cases.”
“When we went into the marketplace, we discovered that our partners recognized that destination Jamaica, over time, had offered such high quality service, had really been such a truly safe destination for visitors, as the record does show that less than one per cent of all the crimes committed in the country, are against tourists,” he pointed out.
Voicing his disappointment over the House’s failure to sanction an extension of the State of Emergency, on July 20, Mr. Bartlett underscored the need to suppress crime and violence, “if we are to give quality service to the world.”
“I can double visitor arrivals to Jamaica. I can double the spend, which is low and should be higher. I can increase the foreign exchange contribution from tourism from US$1.9 billion to US$3.5 billion, if we have a safer society and if the market feels that Jamaica is ready to do business with them in all its forms,” Mr. Bartlett assured.
In a brief address at the forum, PSOJ President, Joseph M. Matalon, urged greater collaboration among Parliamentarians on the appropriate measures necessary to effectively address crime and violence.