Mr. Speaker, Jamaica has been blessed with spectacular beauty, hospitable people, and a vibrant culture. These together have combined to help us create a successful tourism industry. Today the industry plays a crucial role in our economic and social development providing employment to some 33,000 persons in the accommodation sector and thousands more indirectly.
Jamaica has long been recognised as a leader regionally and worldwide. Once again, our international stature has been acknowledged with our election to chair the prestigious Executive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). I will assume this office effective September of this year. The Executive Council is comprised of ministers of tourism from 32 member states from all the continents of the world. This is a significant development for Jamaica and represents a first for the Caribbean, another example of Jamaica punching above our weight in a highly competitive arena. We will therefore be influencing the strategic activities of the UNWTO and helping to shape policies that will impact the world’s tourism industry.
Tourism has consistently been the largest earner of foreign exchange in our economy. Its contribution to the combined value of all the goods and services produced in our country each year is significant. The tourism economic impact study for the Ministry completed last year concluded that, taken together, the direct, indirect and induced contributions of tourism to Jamaica’s GDP in 2010, was 11.7%.
All of this paints a picture of a robust tourism industry in Jamaica, one that delivers significant economic value for us.
Mr. Speaker, last year was a landmark one for us, as we welcomed a record 2 million stopover visitors.
As a performer in this highly competitive industry, we have continued to attract both substantial local and foreign investment. This comes from both the public and private sectors…READ MORE