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Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, has called on stakeholders in the tourism sector to work with Government to ensure the sustainability of the industry, especially in these challenging economic times.
“We must acknowledge that this world crisis will require all of us to make adjustments to our strategies and mode of operation in response to this economic slump,” the Prime Minister said in a speech delivered by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Jennifer Griffith, at the Tourism Awareness Week Church Service held on Sunday (Dec. 7), at King’s Chapel in Montego Bay.
“As we mark Tourism Awareness Week, let us therefore resolve to make whatever contributions we can to the protection and development of the tourism product and sector, as it remains one of the main vehicles through which our country’s advancement will be achieved,” he stated.
The Prime Minister, in his message, said that this year’s commemoration of Tourism Awareness Week, finds the sector wrestling with graver challenges than those which confronted it a year ago. The potential negative impacts of the global financial crisis, he said, presents unprecedented challenges for the sector and poses severe threats to its continued viability and position as the country’s leading foreign exchange earner.
He noted that prospects for growth this winter season are challenged by the current economic conditions in the originating markets, which have resulted in the slowing down in forward bookings. “Travellers are making snap decisions and purchasing at short notice,” he pointed out.
The Prime Minister indicated however that the Government is moving with “great urgency” to mitigate the impact of the crisis on the sector and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), has stepped up its advertising and promotional activities, which include exploring non-traditional avenues as well as strengthening its relationship with the airline sector, all in a bid to attract more visitors to our island.
He said that despite the challenges, the Government is optimistic that the sector could achieve growth as there are opportunities in the market, which favoured Jamaica above many other destinations.
Minister of Tourism, Ed Bartlett, in his message read by Director of Tourism and Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board, John Lynch, made a similar call for stakeholders to “pull together” in order to weather present challenges.
“As our leading foreign exchange earner, tourism impacts all sectors of our society. Unlike the global economies in other parts of the world, tourism is our lifeblood. It is not something we can put aside and come back to when the dark clouds pass over. We must all pull together with tireless resolve to protect this vital industry while we wait for the return of a sunny global economic picture,” Minister Bartlett’s message said.
“We can do this, but only if we work together. We can do this if we remember that this is a joint partnership. We can do this if we respect the contributions of all of Jamaica’s partners, our farmers, taxi operators, hotel workers, craft traders, tour guides, recreation and attractions providers, food and beverage, education, healthcare workers, entertainment and travel services providers, all of us in the public and private sector understanding that our partnership is only as strong as our weakest link and understanding that we can’t just be good, we must be great at what we do.
“If we resolve to stay focussed and strengthen our partnerships across all lines with the goal of excellence, we will not only mitigate deterioration of our market share during this global crisis, but we will maintain our position amongst the world’s tourism leaders and even grow in the face of what will cause others, less strong, to falter,” the Tourism Minister stated.
Tourism Awareness Week is being observed under the theme: ‘Enhancing partnerships in tourism for excellence’.