Money leaving Jamaica's shorelines a danger to tourism - Bartlett
Calling "leakage" a major stumbling block to any form of growth, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has said that more needs to be done to keep revenues generated from the sector into the pockets of ordinary Jamaicans.
The minister, who was making his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament yesterday, said that global trends showed that tourist destinations that did not promote high multipliers and levels of linkages would not produce substantial economic development, and may even "foster resentment" of the industry amongst local residents.
"Revenue that is leaked makes no impact on the local economy; linkages between the tourism industry and the local economy are crucial because of the multiplier effect," Bartlett declared.
"Leakage remains the major obstacle to sustainable tourism growth in Jamaica. It results from the unwanted leaving of money as a result of taxes, wages, and profits paid outside of a country as well as imports, [and] prevents money from flowing back into the local economy and benefiting more ordinary Jamaicans," Bartlett added.
He pointed to a tourism demand study in 2016, which found that Jamaican hotels imported about one-third of their food and fixtures, on which they spent around $70 billion.
"This is an unacceptable situation if we are serious about expanding the benefits of the sector to more ordinary Jamaicans," the tourism minister argued, adding that the problem also reverberated throughout the Caribbean.
Bartlett told colleagues that all of this comes against the backdrop where the country has already started to witness the positive impact of "our fortified growth strategy", pointing to what he called "record investments; record arrivals; record tourism expenditures; more tourists coming from non-traditional regions; new products and new segments; and new public-private partnerships".
He warned that Jamaica could not afford to become complacent and must intensify its efforts to ensure that the sector maximised its contribution to local economic development.