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Jamaica gets mixed scores in tourism competitiveness index

Published:Saturday | May 30, 2015 | 5:07 PMMcPherse Thompson
File A panaromic view of the tourist resort of Ocho Rios. Jamaica got mixed reults from the 2015 tourism competitiveness index.

Jamaica ranked just one level from the bottom of 141 countries on the 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index on the costs of crime and violence to business.

Venezuela, which the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and other researchers claimed to have the second highest homicide rate after Honduras, was ranked at the bottom of the index.

Graded on a scale of one to seven, Jamaica obtained a value of 2.1 and Venezuela 1.9, with one indicating that the incidence of crime and violence impose costs on businesses to a great extent, and seven signifying that it does not impose costs at all.

Within the Caribbean region, Barbados ranked 89 with a value of 4.1; Guyana 103 with a value of 3.7; Dominican Republic 119 with a value of 3.3; Haiti 126 with a value of 3.0 and Trinidad and Tobago 138 with a value of 2.3. All outshone Jamaica.

On the scale that measured the extent to which the threat of terrorism impose costs on businesses, the country fared better with a 5.5 of a possible score of seven, which ranked it at 57.

And, it shared the top spot with 49 other countries on the index of terrorism incidence, the simple average of the number of terrorism-related casualties - injuries and fatalities - and the number of terrorist attacks.

The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, published by the World Economic Forum, also ranked Jamaica 137 for having a homicide rate of 39.3 cases per 100,000 population.

A week ago, Deputy Director General for Economic Planning and Policy Logistics at the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Richard Lumsden, reporting on the security status in keeping with the classifications of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, said that for January to March 2015, there were 77 category one crimes per 100,000 population, a decline of three per cent over the corresponding period last year.

Category one crimes included murder, shooting, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, break-ins and larceny.

However, the murder rate for January to March 2015 was 10.1 per 100,000 population, up 18.2 per cent from 8.6 per 100,000 population over the similar period in 2014.

Lumsden said those figures extend the downward trend in overall crime rates that began in June 2010 into a fifth consecutive year, despite the upward movement in the murder rate in the first quarter of 2015.

In the tourism competitiveness report, Jamaica ranked 59 on the extent to which companies invest in training and employee development; 117 on how well companies treat customers; 55 on the hiring and firing of workers.

Jamaica placed 67 in the ease of finding employees with the right skills; 62 on the extent to which labour regulations impede the hiring of foreign labour; and 82 on the reliability of electricity supply, interpreted as lack of interruptions and lack of voltage fluctuations.

As to how high the government prioritise the development of the travel and tourism industry, the study placed Jamaica at 11 and close to top priority with a score of 6.3. It ranked third behind Seychelles and the Dominican Republic on budgetary expenditure allocated to the travel and tourism industry.

The study found that Jamaica's budgetary allocation was 17.1 per cent, whereas Seychelles spends 22.4 per cent and the Dominican Republic 21.8 per cent. The United States placed 38 for spending 5.2 per cent of its budget on the industry.

Jamaica also topped the Caribbean with a rank of 10 and a score of 5.9 in terms of the effectiveness of marketing and branding campaigns aimed at attracting tourists, with one denoting that promotions are not effective at all and seven indicating that they are extremely effective. The United States placed 24 with a score of 5.3.

On the index of relative cost of ticket taxes and airport charges to international air transport services, Jamaica ranked 96 with a score of 72.9, with a score of zero registered against countries with the highest charges and 100 the lowest.

Jamaica also scored high on the index measuring the average openness of air service agreements, ranking eight with a score of 24.3 to top the Caribbean. A score of zero indicates countries which had the most restrictions and a value of 38 signifies the most liberal.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com