JIS News

After a downtown over the past few months, tourist arrival is again on the rise, with the figures for September showing an increase of 4.8 per cent over the same period last year. “I’m proud to tell you that preliminary figures for October shows an 8.5 per cent increase over last year’s figures,” said Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, at the launch of the ‘Spruce up Jamaica-Nice Up Yuhself’ clean-up campaign in Ocho Rios last Friday (Nov. 2).
He attributed the downturn to a number of factors including the implementation of Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which invokes a passport requirement for all United States citizens returning home from the Caribbean, Latin America and Canada; CARICOM visa restrictions; and competition from CANCUN. “Happily we’ve reversed that,” he stated.
In the meantime, the Minister reiterated plans to grow the industry by double digits, with increased focus on marketing, product development and investment. “We are determined to bring more heads to beds, to convert lookers into bookers and to bring more feet to the streets of Jamaica,” he stated.
At the function, the Minister introduced the boards of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) and the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), which he said, were critical to plans to grow the industry.
“When the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) goes out and invites the world to come see Jamaica’s tourism product because it is the best, it is they (TPDCo and TEF) that will have to make the product ready and validate that claim made by the JTB,” he pointed out.
Chairman of TEF, Godfrey Dyer gave the assurance that the board will do everything it can to deliver on and even exceed the Minister’s expectations.
TPDCo Chairman, Robert Russell, said that the organization’s work will go beyond merely beautifying and enhancing the tourism product on the ground, but to also bring more youth into the loop. “My drive with this board is to initiate training, to do a hotel training school in Montego Bay, to get craft as a serious part of the economy and to get the youth more involved and I know we can do it,” he stated.
Both boards held their first official meetings on Friday and discussed a range of issues to guide their future activities.

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