Jamaica’s newly appointed Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett announced that his country is expected to earn $3 billion from tourism in 2017, up from $2.5B he said the country now earns.
Bartlett told nationals at a Finn Partners welcome reception in New York City last Wednesday, that the extra ½ percent will come from more than 5000 hotel rooms across the tourist sector, in places such as Negril and Falmouth, where there is a high demand.
In addition to increasing U.S. flow from where 75 percent visit Jamaica, the five-part tourism plan will welcome visitors from other markets such as Europe and South America, and expand to include the Caribbean, Asia and Africa.
“Our immediate thrust will exploit the U.S. market by inviting our friends in North America to work with us on a pre-clearance facility arrangement, the same enjoy by Aruba, Cancun Cana, and Bermuda, Puerto Rico. If we get that clearance then connectivity to the secondary and primary airports in the U.S. will be seamless,” added Bartlett, positing that this arrangement would allow more rotations of airline in a day, with a short turn around time, because Jamaica would become domestic space.
“Jamaica is the most exciting destination on earth, and it is so, because 40 percent of all tourist that come to Jamaica has been to Jamaica at least once. One of two visitors you see on the beach has had the Jamaican experience at lease once, some 50 times, such as a married couple who returned to celebrate their 50th year honeymoon.”
Bartlett said despite the problems Jamaica has faced, the iconic attraction is its people, and enduring relations that lead to Jamaicans being in every part of the world.
“Everywhere we go there is a Jamaican of eminence or notoriety,” said the minister who called Usain Bolt a champion of champions and mentioned cricketers, footballers, academics who make Jamaica, in part, a well respected country.
Appointed to the post of tourism minister for the second time around, Bartlett said this repeat calls for a new approach to driving tourism and creating an advanced experience not that people have come to expect, but an experience which is beyond their expectation. “In order to drive tourism arrival you have to build passions around people,” said the minister.
In addition to new products, fashion, and shopping in Jamaica, he wants to build the tourism brand around gastronomy, noting that Jamaica has the finest cuisine that was born from the cultures and ethnicity, qualities that have given “us this beautiful mosaic.”
“Out of many people, one Jamaica, and our food reflects this,” said Minister Bartlett who called on great chefs in the Diaspora, the region, and local entrepreneurs to invest in gastronomy to bring excitement and enticing flavors to pallets of tourists.
Entrepreneurship, casino investment, shopping, as well as tapping into special needs travelers will help to grow tourism.
“We want to show the several hundred thousand special needs travels to Jamaica that we care about you,” said Bartlett, adding that keeping dollars in the country, is a main goal.
He plans to forge partnerships with airlines, tour operators, the media and digital technology to connect the world with Jamaica. As such, the country will train workers in the tourism industry, and review the labor market, he said, adding that a pension plan will roll out within another month.
The tourism industry will also invest in building communities for tourism workers. “We will grow tourism to reach the level where the growth is enough to give and supply the economy so that the average Jamaican can feel the impact of tourism,” he said.
Guests at the reception enjoyed rich Jamaican fare and music by Lion Melta.
Those in attendance included; Assemblyman Nick Perry, Director of Tourism, Paul Pennicook, Jamaican’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador E. Courtenay Rattray, and Harry Bhoorasingh, Regional Manager of JN Money Services USA.
Also present were, Food Network TV winner of “Chopped” Andre Fowles, Devon Harris of Jamaica Bob Sledding fame, Alicia Ashley, WBC Super Bantam Weight World Champ, and Samantha Black, winner of Bravo’s Project Runway – Season 4.