Bartlett unveils five pillars for tourism growth
New markets, new products and investments, the building of new partnerships, and the renewal of human capital make up the five pillars for double-digit tourism growth as outlined by tourism minister Edmund Bartlett over the weekend.
Addressing new board directors of key agencies in his ministry during a seminar at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Saturday, Bartlett said these were the pillars on which he was seeking to transform the island's vibrant tourism sector, which he said had been recording between 1.2 per cent and 2.5 per cent annual growth in the last 30 years.
Not satisfied with the current increments, particularly the US$2.5 billion that the country currently earns from the industry, Bartlett said Jamaica can do better.
"Starting in 2017, we want to grow at a minimum of five per cent per annum for the next five years, increasing our arrival numbers by 100,000 per year, US$255 million incremental, moving earnings to US$3.5 billion," he also told a group of individuals who supported his campaign during a victory reception at Winston and Denise Dear's home in Reading last Friday night.
"We will have tourism shaping the economy. We are going to do it because we are going to find new markets, even while building out our main source market, the United States, to the hilt."
The new tourism minister said already, he had been in talks with JetBlue Airways, which is to introduce new locations to their Jamaican itinerary.
Still very concerned about the Canadian market, he has announced a new flight out of Vancouver.
Bartlett's plan is to return to Russia and China; Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Panama; and the Caribbean. He noted that the Russians were big spenders.
Regarding investments and partnerships, Bartlett told the board of directors that while foreign direct investment would be pursued to build large hotels, there would also be a heavy focus on convincing Jamaicans to invest in the industry.
He said this could be achieved by providing services, developing attractions, and transforming small hotels and private homes to meet the needs of special-needs travellers and other groups.
He said that based on survey feedback, Jamaica is most recognised for its food, music, and love, and these ingredients would be woven into the marketing strategy to attract more tourists to the island.
Elaborating on the renewal of human capital, the tourism minister said service was a key element, "so we must train our workers, and we're going to build out in this dispensation the hospitality school that we've been talking about".
In addition, he has announced an institute of craft, which is to be developed to enable the country to have goods made in Jamaica, sold by Jamaicans, and to carry the value of Jamaica to the four corners of the world.
Concurrently, he said three artisan villages would be constructed: one in Ocho Rios, St Ann, transforming the old Reynolds Pier; another in the Freeport, next to the Montego Bay Cruise Pier and replacing the existing craft market in the heart of the city; and the third in Falmouth, Trelawny, by the old wharf building.
"They are being sited to allow for our artisans and our craft merchandisers to be right where the ship is so that there is no argument again of people bypassing them," he said.
"We want to experience growth that changes the bottom line, while ensuring there is a trickling effect into the economy, touching the average man in the street."