MONTEGO BAY — With billions to be invested in the tourism industry over the next few years and more than 20,000 jobs to be created, Prime Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, says the outlook for the sector remains positive.
"Another 15,825 new rooms are expected to be completed between 2011 and 2013, translating into an estimated 21,000 new jobs and this is good news. Approximately $60 billion in capital investment will take place during that time," the Prime Minister stated Saturday night, as he addressed the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association's (JHTA) 50th anniversary gala banquet held at the Ritz Carlton Golf and Spa Resort in Montego Bay.
He informed that five new attractions are to be opened this year in the resort areas of Montego Bay, Falmouth, Ocho Rios and Kingston “which are projected to bring in income and investment of approximately $780 million and we expect to employ an additional 427 persons within the attractions sub-sector of the industry."
The Prime Minister said that despite the instability of the international financial market, tourism in Jamaica continues to grow, with the sector emerging as the largest foreign exchange earner and is an increasingly significant source of employment.
He informed that in 2010, direct employment in the accommodation sector alone, increased by 664 jobs over the previous year.
He noted that while the country has a solid product and is seen as the top brand in the region, winning the ‘Caribbean’s Leading Destination Award’ for the sixth consecutive year at the recent World Travel Awards, much of the success can be attributed to the work of organisations such as the JHTA.
The Prime Minister stated that the body has had an “extraordinary impact” and is a "stabilising influence" on Jamaica’s tourism sector.
He informed that five decades ago, when the JHTA was established, the country recorded some 224,000 stopover arrivals and 69, 000 crew ship visitors, earning approximately $37 million at the time. Between January and September of this year, the country welcomed 763,000 crew ship and 1.5 million stopover visitors, earning US$1.5 billion, and projections are for a six per cent growth in arrivals.
"Despite several periods of global, economic and political turbulence, this institution, established in November 1961, has continued to be critical for growth and development of the tourist industry in Jamaica. I feel proud to have such talent and commitment serving Jamaica,” the Prime Minister stated.
He said the Government will continue to support the development of the industry “through investment promotion and facilitation, prospecting new and emerging markets, securing the transportation links, developing the policy and legislative framework to support the development of new industry segments and continue to lobby globally for our national interests in tourism."
"The Government is sensitive and keen to support the industry as a critical pillar of the Jamaican economy. As the JHTA partners with other institutions in the society to chart a new course for Jamaica, I’m encouraged by the level of discourse and robust debate that will ensure a workable consensus towards a new economic template for Jamaica,” the Prime Minister added.
Six past presidents of the JHTA, who have made outstanding contribution to the development and achievements of the organisation, were honoured at the function.
By Glenis Rose, JIS Reporter