KINGSTON — Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the sector has the capacity to transform small towns and villages into bustling economic centres, through investment.
In his presentation at the Caribbean Canadian Emerging Leaders Dialogue (CCELD) on June 6, at the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) Arcadia training centre in St. Andrew, Minister. Bartlett cited the towns of Falmouth, Trelawny and Negril, Westmoreland, and the city of Montego Bay, St. James, as examples of the level of transformation and development, which can occur.
He noted that within two years, Falmouth, with investments amounting to less than $300 million, had evolved from a “sleepy little town” into one that is “alive, active and…threatening to become a major centre of commerce and economic activity in the country."
Negril, he said, once a “sleepy little fisherman’s village” is now a “key destination within destination Jamaica”, with a brand, which he described as “powerful”.
As for Montego Bay, Mr. Bartlett said the resort city, once known for trade in lard, and then fishing, is the capital of tourism in the Caribbean. He said the city earns for Jamaica, 35 per cent of all the revenues from tourism, which is close to $1 billion, providing jobs and creating an airport facility that employs 4,000 people.
“Tourism creates new things, new experiences, new areas of activities, because it responds to the demand for experiences that people want, passions of people, as I call it. And with that, you (can) begin to develop, and…invest, in response to that demand,” he said.
Minister Bartlett noted that within the last decade, most advanced nations, have embraced tourism as a critical means of strengthening and, transforming their economies.
Additionally, some of the emerging economies, such as Mexico, have also embraced tourism, notwithstanding the fact that it has oil and other minerals and is rich in agriculture, he said.
Mr. Bartlett further pointed to potential for the development of sports, health and wellness, and entertainment tourism. “I have said it over and over to some of the guys in the (local) entertainment sector, ‘why is it that we are not able to invest sufficiently in producing world class Reggae entertainment in Jamaica, 24/7, because the visitors want to (come for) Reggae,” he stated.
He also underscored the importance of establishing linkages, which he said would generate jobs and economic activity. He contended that countries that have reaped significant gains from tourism, in terms of value and price, have been the ones supplying on the sector’s demand.
“And so, for example, Mexico, which is our neighbour and competitor, is able to provide the food that the industry needs, through its agriculture, and has been able to provide much of the manufacturing needs that the industry needs. As a result of that, it has been able to benefit from efficiencies that enable their price points to be far more attractive today than most other destinations around,” the Minister stated.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter