Jamaica Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says his ministry has exceeded its growth targets and is leading the world in tourism innovation.
The Minister made this announcement today during his Ministry’s two-day mid-term strategic review and planning retreat taking place at the Terra Nova All-Suite hotel in Kingston, where heads of agencies, divisions and senior manages within the ministry are discussing the progress they have made in meeting key performance indicators set ahead of their last meeting.
“Jamaica has led the world in terms of tourism innovation. In the process, we have given the world new phrases and references and we have added to the lexicon of tourism. We were able to get the United Nations World Tourism Organization to accept that there is something called SMTEs [Small and Medium Tourism Enterprises], and to create a category of emphasis on this by global financers and policy makers and thinkers,” said Minister Bartlett.
As a result of Jamaica’s global petitioning for small entrepreneurs in tourism, the Minister said that other major global institutions have responded in a major way to provide the much-needed assistance.
“The Organization of American States has come on board with a program for the first time in its history, which is going to be unfolded in our conference in January next year in Montego Bay.
“They have put together US $500,000 to be made available to SMTEs in the Caribbean. This was a direct response to the global conference Jamaica hosted last November, where one of the three outcomes was to establish SMTE projects around the world. This is significant because 80% of tourism is driven by SMTEs but only 20 % is returned to them,” said the Minister.
According to the Minister, another key innovation is that Jamaica has led the charge globally with the establishment of a Global Resilience and Crisis Management Centre, which will be established next year at the University of the West Indies Mona campus.
“The bigger picture for this Centre is to assist the smaller states that are vulnerable and have no capacity to respond to global disruptions. We will give technical support and guidance; provide academic support and eventually create a whole field of study for undergrads and graduates. That is the kind of thought leadership we are providing the world. What we are seeking to do is create a greater balance between those who have capacity and those who don’t have it so there will be a greater possibility for a higher rate of survival,” he said.
Bartlett says the first board meeting for the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre will take place in London next month, to discuss the creation and implementation of an official strategy, for the development of the Centre.
During the retreat, he also commended the senior team at the Ministry for their stellar performance in meeting the Ministry’s 5x5x5 objective.
“We established objectives, and we began by saying we wanted to grow the tourism contribution to our economy by providing 5 million visitors over a 5-year period. We wanted to earn US $5 billion and to employ 125,000 directly in the industry and increase room stock by 15,000. We also wanted to do that by growing at 5% per annum as a minimum we created our own learning device – the 5x5x5,” said the Minister.
He went on to share that “because of your hard work, we can confidently proclaim that the country remains firmly on track to achieving or even surpassing some of the benchmarks under our ‘5x5x5’ growth plan. Specifically, the 5% annual growth target that we have earmarked over the next five years even amid projections for tourism growth in the region to exceed no more than 3.5 percent up to 2020.”