Message by Jamaica’s Tourism Minister to mark 2016 Tourism Awareness Week

KINGSTON, Jamaica - Jamaica's Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett issued the following National Message for Tourism Awareness Week 2016, which runs from September 25 to October 1 under the theme ‘Touri

Message by Jamaica’s Tourism Minister to mark 2016 Tourism Awareness Week

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett issued the following National Message for Tourism Awareness Week 2016, which runs from September 25 to October 1 under the theme ‘Tourism for All: Promoting Universal Accessibility’:

My fellow Jamaicans, this week we place special focus on undoubtedly Jamaica’s most important sector, Tourism.

Yes, this is Tourism Awareness Week, which runs from September 25 to October 1. This year it will be observed under the theme “Tourism for all, Promoting Universal Accessibility,” which underscores the firm direction we have taken just six months in office in broadening Tourism’s reach to positively impact the lives of as many Jamaicans as we can.

A Social Media Competition, a Tourism Action Club Teacher’s Appreciation Function and the official launch of the National Community Tourism Portal are just some of the activities we are engaged in as we celebrate this crucial week.
The Ministry, and its agencies will also highlight initiatives such as the national beach development programme which provides full access to some of our island’s best beaches for all Jamaicans and visitors including persons who are physically challenged. Another important undertaking is the development of the Tourism Linkages Network, which seeks to ensure that more Jamaicans have the opportunity to be a part of the sector and reap the many benefits.

Tourism my friends is the cornerstone of Jamaica’s economy and its short, medium and long term contribution to growth and development forms a major part of our government’s prosperity agenda.

Tourism remains the largest source of foreign exchange earnings for our economy, earning 2 point 5 billion US dollars last year, whilst providing tens of thousands of jobs and fueling numerous other sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and entertainment.

This year we project that Jamaica will receive around 3.8 million stopover and cruise visitors combined and revenues of over 2 point 5 billion US dollars. I know very well that despite these numbers, many of you are skeptical about tourism and its impact on your life. That is why I have championed the call for a change in how we do things and a firmer resolve to focusing energies on areas that will better spread the benefits of tourism throughout our entire nation.

It is a sector which benefits all of us, so it is critical that we all protect it.
It is a sector which benefits all of us, so it is critical that we all protect it.
After all, Tourism is a sector that has the potential to stimulate wide-scale economic activity, drive new growth in our communities, generate the jobs we need so badly and earn billions of dollars in foreign exchange. Tourism is therefore ideally positioned to become a powerful catalyst for improving the socio-economic conditions of our people.

Friends, my many years of experience as a Public Official, my years at the highest levels of the United Nations World Tourism Organization including as Vice Chairman of the Executive Council and Chairman of its Board of Affiliate Members as well as my interactions with Tourism leaders and experts from here in Jamaica and around the world have provided considerable knowledge, that has influenced our strategy as we seek to develop the sector moving forward.

I have spoken of the Five Pillars of Tourism Growth, which my Ministry and our agencies will focus on in our efforts to transform the island’s tourism sector and achieve significant growth. These Pillars are:

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• Tapping into new markets
• Developing new products
• Promoting new investment
• Building new partnerships, and;
• Renewal of human capital

Underscoring these five pillars of growth, are five networks, incorporating several key sectors, that will better integrate tourism with the people of Jamaica and thereby better spread the benefits all around. These five networks are:

• Gastronomy – yes food
• Sports and Entertainment
• Health and Wellness
• Shopping, and;
• Knowledge

Friends, that renewed architecture of pillars and networks will be enveloped by the need to strengthen and expand linkages with our local agriculture sector, yes our farmers and with our manufacturing and services sectors. Importantly, we must aggressively push Multi-destinational tourism as a response to the new global tourism realities including the gradual rise of Cuba.

My friends, in recognition of the need to incorporate as many Jamaicans into tourism and ensure they enjoy its benefits, our soon to be launched Spruce Up program will aide greatly in that effort. The Spruce Up Jamaica Programme was an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism while I served as Minister from 2007 to 2011. Its emphasis was on the Physical Environment, Mind, Body & Spirit, Community Development, Partnerships through Entrepreneurship and Promoting our Heritage.

It is against this background that the programme is being revitalized with modifications geared at strengthening implementation and monitoring for greater impact. It is geared towards the country’s growth and prosperity agenda with a focus on creating integration among industries and programmes that impact the tourism industry. It seeks to facilitate sustainable livelihoods through job creation, sound environmental practices, the participation of communities in local area development, facilitation of small and medium tourism enterprises (SMTEs) and effective integrated marketing communications – a vehicle for building out an inclusive industry.

My friends, let me repeat, our vision incorporates building out our five pillars of tourism growth underscored by five networks, fused with the need to strengthen and expand linkages with other sectors of the economy and an effort to drive multi-destinational tourism while ensuring that the benefits of the growing tourism sector is shared with the people of Jamaica under a revitalized Spruce Up Jamaica Programme.

Our efforts are already bearing fruit, our visitor arrival figures continue to rise and our tourism earnings are pacing ahead of arrivals. We have also seen several confirmed developments taking root in the tourism sector including plans to add close to 12,000 new hotel rooms, many through our Shovel Ready Initiative, on track to be built out over the coming months and years.

This means jobs, growth and development.

My friends, yes…, yes, “Tourism for All, Promoting Universal Accessibility” is our mantra. We are firmly on track and I call on you to partner with us in our quest to transform the lives of so many of our fellow citizens through a rejuvenated and inclusive tourism sector.

Thank you, and God bless you all.

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