Jamaica's Prime Minister Promises More Investment for Tourism Sector

20 September 2011 4:02pm
Jamaica's Prime Minister Promises More Investment for Tourism Sector

Jamaica's Prime Minister Promises More Investment for Tourism Sector
By Ingrid Brown (The Jamaica Observer)

The Bruce Golding-led administration is planning a major investment conference in the island this December, which it hopes will bolster Jamaica's lucrative tourism industry.

Golding, who addressed the opening ceremony of Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) now underway at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James, said the conference will seek investors not only for accommodations, but attractions.

"One of the things we want to do at that conference is to see just how much interest and how much commitment we will be able to get to invest in, among other areas, the tourism industry," Golding said, pointing out that plans were afoot to further integrate the tourism industry with other local sectors such as manufacturing and service provision.

In addition, the prime minister said discussions were underway with an airline to bring in tourists on small commuter planes to the Ian Fleming Airport in Boscobel, St Mary.

"The technical team was here last week meeting with the Civil Aviation Authority to see if the technical challenges can be overcome and I should have a report on my desk this week," the prime minister announced.

Additionally, Golding said Trinidad and Tobago's transport minister has given the assurance that Caribbean Airlines is to put two new aircraft on the Jamaica route.

JAPEX -- the premier tourism trade show — is said to have attracted the largest ever delegation of overseas buyers. This year's event also has a new feature, which sees organizers — the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) — partnering with JAMPRO to showcase related industries such as agriculture, manufacturing and arts and craft.

President of the JHTA Evelyn Smith said some 625 delegates consisting of local and international tour operators, travel agents and travel media practitioners are in attendance at the three-day event.

Smith said the JHTA understands that the competitiveness of Jamaica rests with the ability of the diverse members of all sub-sectors to continue to be innovative and price competitive.

"JAPEX is, therefore, important to all entities in our industry but particularly to those who are small and unable to afford marketing overseas, she concluded.

Tourism minister Edmund Bartlett said despite the looming global economic crisis as well as other challenges, the tourist arrival figures continue to climb.

According to him, provisional figures indicate that there was a 5.7 per cent increase in total visitors to the island between January and August this year with 2,098,964 arrivals compared to the 1,985,784 recorded for the same period last year.

The minister further disclosed that up to August, Jamaica had earned US$1.480 billion which represents a 3.4 per cent increase over the US$1.432 billion earned for the corresponding period last year.

Cruise arrivals, he said, also jumped by 13.6 per cent between January and August from 610,981 in 2010 to 693,775. Stopover arrivals rose by 2.2 per cent for the same period to 1,405,189 over the 1,374, 803 recorded this time last year.

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