JIS News

Dr. Paul Robertson, Minister of Development, has said that the Tourism Master Plan provided ample investment opportunities through the production of agricultural and manufactured goods, transportation and other services, including restaurants, and attractions.
“To the extent that local producers move aggressively to grasp these opportunities, we will succeed in boosting the exports of goods and services. The challenge is for the private sector to position itself through improvements in the quality of its products and services,” the Minister said.
He was making his contribution to the 2003/04 Sectoral Debate in Gordon House recently.
The Master Plan, which was recently accepted by Cabinet, is designed to increase earnings in the sector from the current figure of US$1.3 billion per annum to US$2.9 billion by 2010. The growth is to be spurred by the investment of US$1.6 billon in the industry over the next eight years, with private sector contributing US$1.4 billion through the construction of hotels and attractions.
“These private sector investments do not include expansion of the Sangster International Airport, which is a tourism related project under which private investors will put up roughly US$200 million,” Dr. Robertson informed. On another matter, he told the House that there had been steady growth in the export of services over the last few years, driven by expansion of the tourist industry, investment in the telecoms sector and the expansion in the Air Jamaica aircraft fleet.
On the other hand, merchandise exports have been affected by the decline in the apparel sector and banana exports, coupled with the high oil bill, which has jumped from just over US$300 million in 1999 to over US$700 million in 2002.
He noted however, that Government was committed to reducing the debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio over the next three years, by reversing the fiscal deficit and accelerating the rate of economic growth.