Destination Ja still strong – Bartlett
Jamaica’s international investment prospects are still holding up strong, despite the ravaging of the global economy by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett.
Bartlett, who delivered the keynote address at the official opening of the Guava Ridge to Content main road in St Andrew East Rural, recently urged farmers in the communities to prepare to meet the increased demand for their produce, once the tourism industry fully reopens.
“Notwithstanding COVID-19, 90 per cent of the investment opportunities that were there before COVID are still intact. We said we were going to do 10,000 rooms over the next few years and it will go eventually to 25,000 as our objective by 2023.
“The good news is that 15,000 of those rooms are still in the mill and the 1,700 Hard Rock facility that we were going to do in St James is still on. The programme for St Ann is still on, the 2,000 rooms in Green Island is still on and the development for Kingston and Port Royal is still on. So I just want you to know that the faith and confidence in destination Jamaica is still there by the investors of tourism in the world, even though we are all challenged by COVID at this time,” Bartlett disclosed.
For this reason, he said the supply side of the equation has to be built out to meet the anticipated increased demand for winter vegetables, which the constituency, based on its climatic conditions, is well suited to meet.
“I am excited to hear that the range of produce that is possibly from up here is broadening and that the issue of more vegetables and particularly winter vegetables because that is the big demand item for us in tourism – more lettuce, more cabbage, more tomatoes, more broccoli and more strawberries and snow peas. All those key areas that are consumed in large numbers, there is an almost infinite demand and you can produce them, and that way reduce the incidents of importation of those goods. If you import less and buy more locally then you going retain more locally and that’s what the business is all about.”
Building out a comprehensive Blue Mountain culinary trail is just one area of investment from which East Rural St Andrew could benefit, and already the tourism ministry has made a critical intervention, he advised.
“We have already established the app for it, so that the visitors from all over the world before they come to Jamaica can use the app and find out where Blue Ridge Restaurant is and where coffee is and find out where all of the assets in the area are located. They can do even more, they can even pay for the experience before they arrive so that providers of the services can have cash flow to deal with things even before the visitors arrive.”