Tue | Jul 16, 2019

Jamaica retaining more money from tourism earnings – Bartlett

Published:Wednesday | May 1, 2019 | 12:16 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Bartlett

WESTERN BUREAU:

Calling it a massive win for the local economy, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has said that Jamaica is now retaining more earnings from the hospitality sector than at any other time in the nation’s history.

Making his contribution to the 2019 Sectoral Debate in Parliament on Tuesday, Bartlett, pressing home the significance of the moment, said retention now stands at 40 per cent, representing a 36 per cent increase from the “30 per cent we had prior”.

“I want to announce today the most important statistic, which represents the biggest development to our long-running issues concerning leakages and linkages and powerfully illustrates that our work to address these issues are bearing fruit,” Bartlett declared.

“The latest review from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which is the standard by which tourism destinations measure the economic impact and retention of the tourism dollar in the local economies, indicates that Jamaica’s retention is now at a record high.”

Bartlett further explained that for every dollar the tourist spends, 40.8 cents stays in the Jamaican economy, a huge win for the country, “as this is where our focus has been, to increase the level of benefits accrued from the sector to Jamaicans”.

He added that this performance is next only to the Dominican Republic, which has the highest level of retention at 50 cents and is “way ahead of the Caribbean ­average, ranging from 10- to 30-cent retention”.

“This is good news for us, as it reflects the results of our ­deliberate policy encapsulated in our Tourism Linkages Council to reduce the leakages of the tourism dollar by increasing the linkages,” the tourism minister added.

Bartlett, in the meantime, said the Tourism Linkages Council, led by hotelier Adam Stewart, deserves “kudos” for assisting in making tourism more profitable and productive than it has ever been for Jamaicans.

“We established five Networks – Gastronomy, Health and Wellness, Sports and Entertainment, Knowledge and Shopping,” he told Parliament.

“This was done in collaboration with the ministries of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries; Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport; and Education, in particular, to develop programmes and ­projects to build the capacity of the average Jamaican to tap into the value chain of the sector.”

Bartlett said that the ­realisation that the visitor comes to Jamaica to consume the cultural assets of the country makes it even the more important for the country to provide ­products “through local and indigenous processes” and where “our locals” can earn much-needed foreign exchange.

“The food the visitors eat, the bed they sleep in, the furniture they use and transportation and other services accessed are all part of their consumption pattern,” he added.

“For example, in 2018, the demand for agricultural ­products was J$39.6 billion, while the demand for manufacturing ­products was J$352 billion.”

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com