Tourism is Jamaica’s Most Important Industry-Samuda

Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Karl Samuda, has said that tourism is Jamaica’s most important industry, offering the country the best chance for lasting economic development.
This, he said, is not “simply because we have hotels that attract guests, but because of the linkages that it offers. We could produce what is used in the hotels, we could feed the guests with what we grow, we could make ourselves self-sufficient in that industry, and make us an independent country economically that is not subject to the vagaries of (other industries).”
Mr. Samuda, who was speaking at the official opening of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry Expo 2007 on Friday (Oct. 19) at the Cruise Ship Terminal, noted that while the bauxite industry is very important, with bauxite and alumina accounting for 60 per cent of the country’s exports, dependence on the sector could have negative effects on the economy, when there are fluctuations within that sector. The Industry Minister therefore pointed to the need for expansion within the tourism sector, noting that this will have the effect of creating demand in other areas, leading to more jobs.
He however underscored the importance of maintaining standards and consistency of supply in an expanded tourism sector, as failure to do this, he said, will only result in the importation of more goods.
He further called for a more aggressive approach to be taken towards attracting investors to the country, adding that investment packages ought to be created and presented to investors in the most attractive form.
In the meantime, Minister Samuda said the government will be expanding training programmes available within the island, in a bid to “improve the productivity of our people”.
He said that the government is dissatisfied with the fact that 70 per cent of the island’s workforce has received no vocational training at all.
“Jamaica has to wake up and realize that nobody owes us a living. We are only going to come out of the difficulties we face through the productivity of our people, and in making them more productive, we must apply the technologies used throughout the world,” he stated.
The 12th annual Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry Expo showcases both local and regional products in the areas of manufactured goods, services, technology, tourism, craft, agriculture, education, and trade and investment. The three-day event, which closes today, is being held under the theme: ‘Showcasing Jamaica and the Caribbean’.
The Jamaica Information Service (JIS) is one of the sponsors of the event.

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