We all benefit from tourism
The Editor, Sir:
I watched with interest the live streaming of the tourism minister's presentation to the 2010-11 Budget Debate and must commend the prime minister for taking a bold step to include tourism in the Budget Debate for the first time. This demonstrated the priority being placed by the Government on this critical industry, which continues to be the lifeblood of the Jamaican economy.
As a Jamaican living in the destination's primary-source market, it came as a surprise, therefore, when I read a letter to the editor published on Sunday, April 18, asking the question, 'Who really benefits from tourism?' as I believe Minister Ed Bartlett cited a number of examples showing the various linkages with other sectors, including agriculture.
The projected earnings of US$2 billion for this fiscal year represent some 20 per cent of Jamaica's total GDP. How can one mistake the value of such a sector, which is responsible for well over 50 per cent of the island's foreign exchange earnings and a quarter of all jobs?
During his presentation, the minister shared a number of testimonials which speak to the impact of tourism on the local economy. I recall that Lascelles' Financial Director Anthony Bell estimated that about 25 per cent of the group's alcohol sales come from the tourism sector, pointing to the value of a trickle-down effect.
I also noted that the tourism minister outlined a number of investment projects which are being undertaken by local investors, which will ensure these earnings stay within the Jamaican economy.
We all stand to benefit from this important industry as the minister sought to address in two scenarios examining how tourism stimulates a demand for eggs, and his story of the Coverman family. Bartlett ought to be commended rather than challenged, as I, too, agree that tourism offers the best hope for us as Jamaicans if we are to survive in the fiercely competitive global marketplace.
We wish to thank the tourism minister for his vision and fortitude in what has been a challenging global economic environment and wish him and his team continued success.
I am, etc.,