Jamaica Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett has outlined to the new boards of directors of key agencies in the ministry, five pillars on which the Ministry and its agencies will seek to transform the island’s vibrant tourism sector and achieve double digit growth.
The pillars were outlined yesterday (April 9) during a seminar at the Montego Bay Convention Centre for all board members, to inform them of their roles as directors of their respective agencies. In attendance were chairmen and board members of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), Jamaica Vacations Limited (JAMVAC) and Devon House Development Company.
The five pillars include tapping into new markets, developing new products, promoting investment, building new partnerships and the renewal of human capital.
With sights set on pulling in more than US$3 billion from the US$7.2 trillion global tourism market, Minister Bartlett said “we’re going to go to new markets but we have to be careful about that.” He explained that “our existing key market is still not giving us the full returns that we want.”
The United States is being targeted alongside Canada for increased market share. Minister Bartlett was resolute that, “there’s so much more to get from the United States,and we’re gonna get it.” Already, he said an additional flight has been secured out of Vancouver, Canada for the winter.
The thrust will also seek to grow the UK market which has been recovering from a slump due to a recession. “We’re going to grow further because during the period we acquired new partners which put us in a position where we are able now to benefit from the growth curve that is taking place in that economy,” said Minister Bartlett.
The Caribbean and Asia, in particular China have also been prioritized and Mr. Bartlett stressed that Cuba was strategically positioned to help in the growth of tourism in the Caribbean which would augur well for Jamaica. The interest in Cuba he says should play a key role in enabling the region to secure better airlift arrangements with airlines and facilitate multi-destination marketing in the region.
Regarding investments and partnerships, Minister Bartlett told the board directors that while foreign direct investment would be pursued to build large hotels, there will also be heavy focus on convincing Jamaicans to invest in the industry. This, he said, could be achieved by providing services, developing attractions and transforming small hotels and private homes to meet the needs of special needs travellers and other groups.
He said based upon survey feedback, Jamaica is most recognized for its food, music and love and these ingredients will be woven into the marketing strategy to attract more tourists to the island.
Elaborating on the renewal of human capital, the tourism minister said service was a key element “so we must train our workers and we’re going to build out in this dispensation the hospitality school that we’ve been talking about.”
He also disclosed that, “we’re going to build out the capacity of our artisans to produce goods of a wide variety with strong creative output.” To achieve this, “an institute of craft is going to be developed to enable us to have goods made in Jamaica, sold by Jamaicans and to carry the value of Jamaica to the four corners of the world.”
Concurrently, he said three artisan villages will be constructed, one in Ocho Rios transforming the old Reynolds Pier, another in the Freeport next to the Montego Bay Cruise Pier and replacing the existing craft market in the heart of the city, and the third in Falmouth by the old wharf building. Mr. Bartlett said these were being sited “to allow for our artisans and our craft merchandizers to be right where the ship is so that there is no argument again of people bypassing them.”
Additionally, he said “that will also create space for development and the renewal of downtown Montego Bay.”