PROGRESS: Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett faces the audience during the question and answer session
JAMAICA’S TOURISM industry offers numerous possibilities for investment, according to Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, who was speaking at a community meeting at the Jamaica High Commission in London recently.
“There are numerous possibilities. Tourism has that ability to offer opportunities for wealth creation and entrepreneurship”, Minister Bartlett said adding that the government believes that the private initiative must lead the economy.
“We are encouraging you to invest, because there will be no humungous taxation. There will be no restrictions on the repatriation of profits.
Tourism is an industry in the sense that it’s a production process. It’s a series of moving parts that must converge seamlessly to provide an experience,” he said.
Minister Bartlett highlighted agriculture as one sector in which tourism has the potential to create tremendous growth. He noted that fresh fruits and vegetables have created a demand that is worth $75 billion.
According to the Tourism Minister , with some 88 per cent of all visitors describing good food as an important part of their tourism experience, there is great scope for investment in this area to not only to open new restaurants to also to develop great visitor experiences.
Mr. Bartlett said that agriculture is on the rise and that this sector was set to become the “star performer” of the Jamaican economy. He said the growth in agriculture will continue because of the growth in the tourism sector because; “we are eating more (local produce) than ever before”.
Mr. Bartlett noted that, Agriculture along with Marketing and Services, were three of the pillars of the tourism sector.
The Minister also said that there were opportunities to go into new markets by cooperating with other nearby destinations who might ordinarily be competitors such as Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
Mr Bartlett noted that despite the emerging markets of China and India, Jamaica’s tourism still depended heavily on American visitors.
“For us Jamaicans, because of proximity, the US has to be the essential area of consideration,” Mr Bartlett said. “Last year, 63% of stopover arrivals came from the US alone. American visitors are only an hour and a half away in Miami, and just two hours away in New York.”
The Minister also stressed the need to tackle the scourge of crime in Jamaica, and stated that the government was making national security the top priority in the National Budget.
During a question and answer session which followed his presentation, the minister fielded many questions from the audience which included the need for road repairs in some parishes and the acquisition of public space for cemeteries, especially in the south western part of the island. Mr Bartlett promised that these would get attention up on his return.