Tourism Minister Projects Six Per Cent Growth


Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, is projecting that the tourism sector will grow by six per cent this year, on the heels of last year’s 3.6 per cent growth.
Making his presentation in the 2010/11Budget Debate today (April 14) Mr. Bartlett informed that the winter season has so far recorded 700,000 visitors.
“The month of March was spectacular. We had an all time record number of arrivals at 12.7 per cent over last year. Our goal for this year is to welcome two million visitors, and to have gross earnings of US$2.06 billion,” he said.
He noted that if the earnings target is met, it would represent 20 per cent of total gross domestic product (GDP). He pointed out that tourism currently accounts for over 50 per cent of foreign exchange earnings and a quarter of all jobs.
Mr. Bartlett argued that while the country lost about 40,000 jobs last year, the accommodation sub-sector had a net gain of three per cent, moving from 35,257 in 2008 to 36,321 in 2009. The Tourism Minister is projecting a further increase of 2,250 when the Secrets Resort and the Palmyra hotel come fully on stream.
Reflecting on last year’s harsh economic climate, Mr. Bartlett reminded the Parliament that Jamaica was only one of three major Caribbean destinations that recorded growth last year.
Jamaica welcomed more than 1.8 million visitors to its shores in 2009, which was 3.6 per cent higher than the previous year. Tourism earnings for last year totaled US$1.97 billion.

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