Jamaica Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, has revealed that the country earned a record US$2 Billion during the first eight months of this calendar year from 2.8 million visitors.
The figure represents an increase of 8.3 percent in gross foreign exchange earnings than the US$1.83 billion earned last year over the same period. In addition, cruise passenger arrivals were up 5.1 percent for the same period.
“My mission is to enhance the retention of the dollar from this US$2 billion. In fact, the latest report from the World Travel & Tourism Council indicates that the retention of the dollar, from the consumption side, has risen to 70 percent. The Tourism Linkages Council is going to drive that value added that is needed to take the retention levels in Jamaica from 30 cents to at least 50 cents, for the total dollar that is spent,” said Minister Bartlett.
He also highlighted that direct contribution from tourism to the GDP at the moment is 8.4 percent but the induced and indirect contribution is now 27.2 percent. So, tourism remains one of the few labour-intensive sectors and directly employs 106,000 Jamaicans while generating indirect jobs for one in four persons, linked to sectors such as agriculture, creative and cultural industries, manufacturing, and construction.
The minister pointed out that the tourists are spending more in the country because they have more to offer them. It is important to note that building the capacity to provide more of what the tourists require when they get here is to build out the production and enable the consumption patterns of the tourist, to favour the retention of the dollar in our destination.
Bartlett urged financial institutions to do more to support small businesses so they can be better equipped to respond to the demands of the tourism sector.