The United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union is being seen as significant to Jamaica’s tourism industry, but Tourism Minister Hon. Edmund Bartlett says there’s no need to panic as every effort will be made to secure the UK market.
On Thursday, in a referendum on what was termed “Brexit” the United Kingdom voted on get out of the 28-member European Union.
That decision “is of significance to us in tourism for a number of reasons, perhaps, foremost of which is the fact that, based on the economic and political implications, it will have an impact on the travel and tourism community across the region,” said Minister Bartlett in a statement to the Press in Negril on the weekend.
He noted that the Caribbean was the region that is most dependent on British visitors on this side of the globe and “it is important for us to consider what implications that will have on the flow of visitors into our destinations.”
Minister Bartlett continued that “for us in Jamaica the British market is our third largest and is a growing market and with it comes also important connectivity from other areas of Europe, so that whatever is happening in that economy, in that political space, is of tremendous interest and importance to us.”
The Minister gave the assurance that proactive steps are being taken to secure the UK market but said it was recognized that the immediate short-term impact was the devaluation of the British Pound in the wake of the Brexit vote. This, noted Mr. Bartlett, had implications for British travellers and their ability to afford visits to the Caribbean and Jamaica, “especially against the background that our prices are predicated on the US dollar.”
On a positive note, he suggested that the immediate impact on arrivals for Jamaica “may not be severe at all.” This is because “our immediate market arrangements are covered by a series of packaging which have taken place already; payment for which have either been in the system already or are about to be made,” he disclosed.
However, Minister Bartlett said Jamaica had to look beyond the next winter season, “as a result I will be leading a team to the UK in September for the Jamaica Travel Market and thereafter to do a roadshow in the British Isle.” He stressed that this was important to shore up partnerships in the area and bolster the country’s market position in relation to the type of products, pricing and general arrangements that will be made “to ensure the competitiveness of destination Jamaica.”
Declaring that “one thing we in tourism don’t do, we don’t react,” Minister Bartlett said, “we are always proactive and interestingly our programme for the UK in fact predates the results of the UK’s referendum. So we will continue to monitor the situation and take additional steps as required,” he added.