Urgent call for small hotels to tap into social-tourism market
Edmund Bartlett, tourism minister, earlier this week made an appeal to small hoteliers to take advantage of markets in social tourism, including accommodation and care for persons with special needs.
He was speaking at a press conference at the ministry's New Kingston office, where he gave an update on the 37th edition of Caribbean Travel Marketplace, which will be held in Montego Bay, St James, at the end of this month.
Bartlett said that in recent times, there has been a demand in diverse needs in the industry, some of which are extremely lucrative.
"Special-needs tourism, for example, is something that very few people are thinking about but has become very lucrative. There are autistic children who need care, love, and attention, and people will appreciate a destination where care is given to them. That is a huge market that is highly specialised and where returns are high," he said.
"We could speak for any area of disability where special care is required, and because of the kind of hospitality that Jamaica offers, there's a good opportunity for us to tap into that. The small hotels that are having difficulties competing now, for example, could easily morph into special-care centres for which there is a big market."
ABOUT THE SMALL HOTELS
He reiterated the fact that the tourism ministry is constantly working to ensure that small enterprises are not excluded.
"The conference is about them (small hotels). It is they who will be attending and not the big hotels. We are going to do something very practical at that conference. We are going to take a walk to Rose Hall (St James) before we get to Iberostar, where the small restaurants are," said the minister.
"Then you have the pudding man in Priory, among other small enterprises like those across Jamaica, who are going to be the focus of this conference. All that we are talking about is going to be about them. We are taking tourism to that level of inclusive growth to involve people who are providing services all over. The strategy that this ministry has employed is about bringing the value of tourism to the average man, but more importantly, taking steps to retain more of the US dollar inside of Jamaica."