Tourism minister touts online marketplace for shoppers
While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is negatively impacting Jamaica’s capacity to earn from tourism, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett believes that e-commerce and the online marketplace are providing a viable avenue to entice international shoppers into buying Jamaican goods and services.
“Had the pandemic not struck the national coffers, we would have benefitted greatly from the wallets of visiting shoppers. But all is not lost, because while the onset of the pandemic imposed restrictions of social distancing, it has also accelerated us into the world of e-commerce at a much faster pace than it was being pursued,” Bartlett said on Wednesday, while addressing the launch of the third annual Style Jamaica Fashion Show in Rose Hall, St James.
“There was never any doubt that greater use had to be made of ever-increasing technological advancement, for us to retain our status as a developing nation while having an eye on attaining the goal of becoming a developed state,” Bartlett added.
The minister noted that artisans and fashion designers can take advantage of the wider market provided through online shopping, the same way that goods manufacturers can.“The online marketing of products and services is now the norm, and our Jamaican consumers are beginning to appreciate that this comes with other benefits that, in themselves, add value in terms of cost-savings and even time-savings in getting goods from producers to consumers. This does not only go for manufacturers of consumer goods, but also for our artisans and fashion designers, who now have a worldwide market of online purchasers at their fingertips,” Bartlett explained.
“The reality is that anyone has to get with it, and indeed everyone should be doing so, recognising that competitiveness in the market is now at a global level. This is one moment when size does not matter; once you have the capacity to deliver a creative item, the connectivity exists through technology for you to be able to showcase the content of your mind and the quality of your creative output.”Jamaica’s tourism industry has been negatively impacted over several months since the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic, for which Jamaica has recorded 11,968 infections and 279 deaths to date. Several hotels were closed and tourism workers lost their jobs due to the dislocation caused by the pandemic.
In April, it was predicted that Jamaica could reap up to US$1.5 billion in tourism revenue, far less than the US$4.4 billion that was previously projected. The tourism industry appears to have gone into recovery mode since then, however, as approximately 30 per cent of tourism workers are said to have returned to work as of the end of October.Despite that upswing, Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association President Clifton Reader has projected low bookings for the Winter 2020-2021 tourist season.