Tourism earns US$2b up to July
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said preliminary data indicate that gross foreign exchange earnings for January to July have risen by 6.3 per cent, compared to the same period last year, to more than US$1.9 billion. This increase has been driven by the 2,955,007 visitor arrivals between January and August this year, which represents a 4.7 per cent hike over last year's performance.
"Estimated gross foreign exchange earnings for the period, and this is the exciting part, January to July 2018 were US$1.93 billion, up 6.3 per cent over the same period last year, with stopover arrivals earning US$1.82 billion and cruise earning US$110 million," said Bartlett, as he addressed a press briefing at the Ministry of Tourism yesterday.
The Gleaner asked Bartlett for the percentage of the tourist dollar that is being retained in the local economy, based on his calls for a higher rate.
He explained: "We don't have the figure to give you yet because we're just doing the research now. PricewaterhouseCoopers is working on that as we speak so that we can get a new sense of where the retention is. But at 30 cents, this is the highest retention of any industry in the country. There is no industry that retains 30 cents of the dollar at the moment."
The minister added, "This is a highly import-dependent economy, and we rely heavily on value added, so at 30 cents, that's a significant retention."
Bartlett reasoned that there was no room for complacency and that the Government was moving to re-engage the Japanese market and bolster arrivals from Canada. The tourism minister and director of tourism are scheduled to have meetings with Canadian tourism stakeholders in the coming days.
Bartlett asserted: "Of course, we do not take this success for granted and we are aggressively targeting new and traditional markets to attain double-digit growth and promote Jamaica as the ideal winter tourism destination."