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Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has said that Jamaica’s tourism industry, which contributes 7.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), is poised to create jobs and fill the gap left by the collapse of the bauxite/alumina sector.
He was speaking at Jamaica National Building Society’s ‘Outlook for the Future’ forum on the Jamaican economy, held on June 6 at the York College Performing Arts Centre in Queens, New York, U.S.A.
According to Minister Bartlett, tourism is a driver for other industries, “as the guests will need food, personal services such as spa treatments and hair braiding, transportation, entertainment and apparel, while new hotel rooms will require furniture.”
He noted that “currently, three million tourists a year visit Jamaica (and) together with the population of about 2.5 million, bring the number of people needing goods and services to over 5 million, and $76 billion in revenues is directly attributable to tourism just in the hotels alone.”
The Minister also mentioned Government initiatives to assist the sector including $250 million for internships; funding to provide supervisory and middle-management training for staff at a hospitality school in Montego Bay, St. James; while the sector is expected to benefit from the $200 million Young Entrepreneurs Programme, through which loan support is provided for young persons leaving high schools and colleges to start and sustain small businesses.
Minister Bartlett said that the island’s tourism industry has fared very well despite decline in a number of other countries because “Jamaica is the strongest brand as a result of our culture.”
“What makes our tourism grow is not a good Minister, it’s the people in the communities, our cuisine, our service, our music, our culture, as well as global brand recognition through sports,” he stated.