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'My job is to get them here' - Bartlett targets significant increase in tourist arrivals

Published:Tuesday | March 8, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Edmund Bartlett, who on Monday took charge of the tourism ministry, says he will be pursuing plans to further develop Jamaica's tourism product, making it the "envy of the Caribbean".

The newly appointed minister, who is returning to familiar territory, was asked to respond to the likely lifting of the United States embargo on Cuba in the not-too-distant future, which would result in the opening up of the well-sought-after tourism market in the communist state.

It is highly anticipated that the Cuban market will be opened up to American tourists as soon as the United States' decades-old embargo is lifted.

Many argue that the pull factor from the northern Caribbean state could erode the flow of tourists from the US to Jamaica.

According to Bartlett, the Cuban tourism market has its own allurement.

"We have our own hook, and I am going to drive that and build the Jamaican product [so] that it becomes the envy of the Caribbean," he said.

"My own view is that we need not fear Cuba for any competition with the United States," Bartlett continued, adding that the US has nearly 100 million visitors who move across the world, and Jamaica gets 1.2 million of that number.

"My God! We can get two million with a little more effort in that market alone, with or without Cuba. I am driven by the fact that people are travelling, and if they are travelling somewhere, why not Jamaica? My job is to get them here," a confident Bartlett asserted.

He noted that if the Cuban tourism market is opened up, there would be an opportunity for collaboration between Cuba and Jamaica.

As chairman of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation's (UNWTO)'s affiliates executive council, Bartlett said he visited many countries looking at best practices, joint marketing and multi-destination activities.

"I will be driving multi-destination marketing in the Caribbean," Bartlett pointed out, saying he would be seeking to build relationships with the airlines and tour operators to ensure that the Jamaican market achieves the required growth.