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Bartlett touts 'innovation city' to help plug leakage of tourism earnings

Published:Sunday | October 21, 2018 | 12:28 PM
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett addressing stakeholders at the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Business and Investment forum held at the SeaGarden Beach Resort on Friday.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says the creation of what he calls a Tourism Innovation City in Montego Bay, St James will help the island retain more of the earnings from tourism.

Speaking at the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Business and Investment forum held at the SeaGarden Beach Resort on October 19, Bartlett said: “To build out a tourism economy that will be beneficial to Montego Bay, which is the heartbeat of tourism in Jamaica, the backward and forward linkages must be in place and when that happens tourism costs will begin to fall and revenues from consumption will increase."

He said the innovation city would be tasked with developing areas of textile, manufacturing and farming, among other things to boost capacity on the supply side of the tourism value chain.

Bartlett, in a release from the tourism ministry today, referred to the Dominican Republic, whose revenue retention from tourism is 50cents on each foreign exchange earned. "This is so because they own the supply side - they manufacture uniforms for the sector and have processing plants to make the chutneys and jams needed by the guests. This is where a Tourism Innovation City in Jamaica would help to produce more of the items needed in the sector,” he explained.

Jamaica retains about 30 per cent of its earnings from tourism. The island earned some US$3 billion from tourism last year.

According to the tourism minister, “If Jamaica is to earn more of the foreign exchange brought in by visitors, we must be able to reduce importation of the inputs needed for the sector and increase our ability to supply on the demand."

Bartlett said he was in discussion with the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) to develop the innovation city at Grange Pen and Barrett Hall in St James. 

"The Tourism Innovation City will create a circular economy where nothing is wasted and everything is utilised fully and the resources, income and earnings, stay within that space," Bartlett said. "When we are finished building out Grange Pen and Barrett Hall, this will be a fertile area for this great experiment and I am in discussion with the Urban Development Corporation who are to do a design for this innovation city.”