Christopher Columbus said that Jamaica was the “fairest island that eyes have beheld.
Jamaica is a good example of how a country with both positive and negative publicity can move forward and prosper, thanks to one dedicated tourism minister. This tourism minister is hard working Edward Bartlett who managed to change the perception of his country and turned a security challenge into a tourism opportunity.
“As you would know, 2017 marked another exceptional year for tourism, with arrivals breaking all records and the total economic impact of the sector surpassing most other segments of the economy,” Bartlett said at a local press gathering.
Despite Jamaica’s widely published crime and corruption challenges, the travel and tourism industry managed to grow in record numbers. There seems to be so much more good and exciting reasons to travel to this country of Bob Marley and raggae, the country of good cigars, great spicy food, festivals and well-known luxury hotels.
Miuch of this success story can be credited to this one man, the long-serving minister of tourism Ed Bartlett. According to Bartlett, the revenue generated for his country is 62.2 billion US Dollars, 12.2% of total recurrent revenue.
A proud Minster Bartlett spoke from Amman, Jordan, at the Resilience through Tourism’ Summit. He continues to say: ” “We are just about halfway into the calendar year 2018 and the growth trend continues unabated. The figures for January to May tell me that (the sector’s) performance has hit yet another record, with stopover arrivals for the first five months surpassing one million by about 30,000 visitors, representing a 5.5 per cent increase over the same period last year.”
Additionally, the Minister says cruise arrivals recorded a 5.5 per cent increase for the same period, to be sailing at 933,892, thereby bringing total visitor arrivals figure at this time of year to a near record-breaking two million, while adding that from June 1 to 14, “we saw an increase of 8.3 per cent in arrivals of over 90,000 visitors.
For Jamaica, this means a 9% increase in foreign exchange earning or US$ 1.3 billion.
Leading global hotel brands are looking for strong visible presence in Jamaica, citing Royalton, Riu, Hyatt Ziva and Zilara, Palace Resorts, Grupo Excellence, and also the recent partnership between Jewel Hotels and Playa Hotels and Resorts, among these. Last year, over 1,200 rooms were added to the hotel portfolio of the country, representing hundreds of millions of US dollars in foreign direct investment.
The Minister reiterates that just over two weeks ago, Grupo Excellence Luxury Hotels and Resorts opened their latest resort, Oyster Bay in Trelawny, representing an investment of US$110 million and adding 315 rooms to the tourism landscape.
Mr. Bartlett points out that the five-year growth plan which he outlined two years ago is being achieved aggressively, adding that the country can expect to exceed all targets.
Resorts expansive hotel development project in St. Ann. The Sugar Cane Project, at an estimated cost of over US$900 million, is expected to result in the development of a maximum of 10 hotels over 10 years, with a total of 5,000 rooms, and provide at least 8,000 direct jobs and 10,000 indirect jobs.
Mr. Bartlett says there will be a Hardrock Hotel in Montego Bay, Playa Hotels and Resorts is expanding 760 additional rooms, and opening hotels in Ocho Rios, Runaway Bay and Montego Bay.