Jamaica’s Tourism Minister charges CHICOS to encourage investment in experiences

Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett says for the Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit (CHICOS) to be truly relevant to the region it must look beyond investments in accommodation and encourage investment in experiential marketing arrangements that will keep the Caribbean competitive and cutting edge at all times.

Minister Bartlett pointed out that while 15,000 rooms are to be constructed in the next five years, “the essence of tourism for the Caribbean is not about building more rooms, it is about building the capacity of the region to absorb the demand that tourism brings.”

“This capacity resides in our ability to invest more in the experiences that are consumed by the visitor because those experiences tend to be local and these local experiences are owned by the people of the region. It is that ownership of the indigenous experiences that allows for the retention of the dollar in our space,” he noted.

The Tourism Minister was giving the main address at the CHICOS press launch yesterday (May 7) at the Terra Nova Hotel, Kingston. The conference, considered a must-attend annual event for anyone interested in tourism and hospitality in the Caribbean, will be held from November 14-15 at Secrets Resorts in Montego Bay.

Pointing out that people travel to fulfil their passions, Minister Bartlett noted that 88% of the world travels for food experiences and 42% of travelers’ total expenditure is on food while 67% of the world travels for shopping experiences. Health and wellness, sport and entertainment and knowledge were some of the other passion points that motivate people to travel.

“So I want to encourage you in planning the conference to pitch the supply side – what the tourist consumes when they get to the destination. Hotel rooms and accommodation are only the places where visitors sleep. The tourist does not travel to sleep. So sleeping is not the issue; the issue is experiences,” Minister Bartlett said, noting that this was how the Ministry was able to increase the tourism dollar retention from 30% to 40.8% in the last three and a half years.

In his address, State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agricultural, Hon. Floyd Green said that while the tourism sector continues to show rapid annual growth, there have also been deliberate and prioritized key initiatives to facilitate local and foreign direct investments to drive growth of the Jamaican economy, including the tourism sector.

One of these initiatives is the National Investment Policy (NIP), which once finalized will act as a comprehensive policy framework to guide the development, administration and monitoring of the investment community. The other initiatives are implementation of the National Business Portal (NBP), an online platform that will house the Business-to-Government (B2G) online interface for all Government entities involved in the investment or business facilitation process as well as a drive to achieve a Top 10 rank in the 2021 Doing Business Report (DBR).

The two-day conference will bring together some 300 regional and international delegates, including governmental representatives, developers, bankers, tourism officials, hotel industry leaders, to explore possibilities for hospitality development in Jamaica and in the wider Caribbean.

Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) is a planning partner for the conference along with AM Resorts, HVS Global Hospitality Services and Apple Leisure Group. Sponsors include the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Tourism Enhancement Fund.