KINGSTON, Jamaica – Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, is urging members of the new Tourism Competitiveness Task Force to build on the achievements of the tourism sector to further enhance the industry’s competitiveness and fuel growth in visitor arrivals and earnings.
This as Minister Bartlett revealed that Jamaica’s tourism sector registered growth of over 6 % in visitor arrivals for the first five months of the year. He said “our latest figures indicate that for the period January to May 2016, total arrivals, both stopover and cruise, increased by 6.7 % with 1,779,066 visitors compared to the 1,667,081 visitors recorded for the same period last year.”
The Minister also underscored that the increase in arrivals has resulted in a rise in tourism earnings. “This growth in arrivals has resulted in an increase in tourism earnings of 4.9% as we recorded earnings of $US 1.1 billion, up from approximately $US 1 billion for the same period last year,” he added.
While addressing the inaugural meeting of the task force on June 23, 2016, Minister Bartlett said the body is crucial to the Ministry’s drive to achieve its growth targets of securing 5 million visitors and generating US$ 5 billion in tourism earnings by 2021.
In issuing his charge to the new task force, which is chaired by hotelier Josef Forstmayr, Minister Bartlett urged them to take decisive steps to enhance the experience persons will have at our ports of entry.
The Minister said “I want this task force to help to guide the Ministry in our efforts to deliver on the promise to visitors of an exceptional experience in Jamaica, which is destination assurance. Key to this process is dealing with the issue of travel facilitation, addressing visa and air connectivity issues, streamlining airport procedures and enhancing the skills of the people of the ground.”
In accepting the challenge Mr. Forstmayr said “it is a pleasure to serve as Chairman. We will be adopting best practices from across the world to ensure that the experience at our airports is significantly improved for Jamaicans and visitors alike.”
The other members of the task force include Jennifer Griffith, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism; Godfrey Dyer, Chairman, Tourism Enhancement Fund; Paul Pennicook, Director of Tourism; Major General Stewart Saunders, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of National Security; Jennifer McDonald, CEO, Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency; Omar Robinson, President, Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association; Audley Deidrick, President, Airports Authority of Jamaica & NMIA; Dr. Rafael Echevarne, CEO, MBJ Airport Ltd.; Major Richard Reese, Commissioner of Customs; a representative from the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.