Amid the uncertainties that have characterised the current post-COVID-19 period, an unprecedented opportunity has been presented for us to rethink strategies for building the resilience of Jamaica’s tourism industry.
The Ministry of Tourism has always advocated for a sector that is economically sustainable, socially inclusive and environmentally friendly; however, the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated our commitment to rethinking tourism to maximise its contribution to the social and economic well-being of the nation and its citizens.
I am therefore particularly pleased to be joining the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the global community in celebrating the significance of World Tourism Day, which is being observed on September 27 th under the theme: ‘Rethinking Tourism’
According to the UNWTO: “This means putting people and planet first and bringing everyone from governments and businesses to local communities together around a shared vision for a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient sector.”
This year’s World Tourism Day theme will also guide Jamaica’s activities for Tourism Awareness Week (TAW), which runs from September 25 to October 1, as we continue to raise awareness of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.
- Daily advertorials highlighting initiatives of the Ministry of Tourism and its
public bodies that foster innovation in tourism
- A Thanksgiving Church Service
- The Virtual Edmund Bartlett Lecture Series
- A Style Jamaica Runway Show
- A Tourism Opportunities Visionary Symposium
- A Youth Forum
- A Special Virtual Knowledge Forum
- The Official Launch of the Tourism Innovation Incubator
- Speaking Engagements at schools across Jamaica
- A Tourism Stakeholder Engagement Activity
- A Youth Poster Competition, among other engaging activities
Together with our committed tourism partners, we are charting an effective course towards sustainable recovery that is enabling the tourism industry to rebound in a big way. This is imperative because Jamaica’s tourism industry is a key source of income, employment and wealth for the country.
The industry generates direct employment for 175,000 Jamaicans and indirect employment for over 354,000 Jamaicans, including hotel workers, farmers, craft vendors, entertainers and transportation operators. Also, it is the single largest contributor to GDP, the main source of foreign revenues and one of the country’s main sources of exports. Overall, the tourism sector has grown by 36 per cent over the past 30 years against total economic growth of 10 per cent.
The rethinking of Jamaica’s tourism is being guided by our Blue Ocean Strategy, which is playing a leading role in revitalising Jamaica’s tourism industry. It calls for the creation of business models that depart from traditional ones based on competition and standardisation. Using the key premises of this framework, we have shifted our strategic focus to one of enhanced value-creation through product differentiation and diversification.
We are opening up new markets and creating new demand in uncontested market spaces instead of going down the well-trodden path and competing in saturated markets.
What does this mean on the ground? We are harnessing our culture and heritage to tell the authentic Jamaican story; creating experiences that will get visitors out of the hotels and into our communities; training and building the capacity of our people to respond to an ever-evolving industry; renewing our focus on destination assurance; and providing technical and financial support for Small and Medium Tourism Enterprises (SMTEs), which contribute invaluably to the authenticity and totality of the visitor experience.
As we observe Tourism Awareness Week, the sector continues its record-breaking performance. This is underscored by the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s (PIOJ) April to June 2022 Quarterly Report, which indicates that tourism continues to drive Jamaica’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery. The economy grew by 5.7 per cent during the quarter, compared with the same period in 2021, with the tourism and hospitality sector contributing substantially.
According to the PIOJ, the Real Value Added for Hotels & Restaurants grew by an estimated 55.4 per cent, reflecting a sharp increase in visitor arrivals from all main source markets.
In addition, length of stay is back to the 2019 levels of 7.9 nights while, more importantly, the average spend per visitor has increased from US$168 per night to US$182 per person per night. This is a clear indication of the resilience of our tourism sector.
This significant accomplishment is due to the hard work and perseverance of my ministry and its public bodies, our tourism workers and partners, and the people of Jamaica. Thank you for your continued commitment to this important sector. Tourism’s success would not be possible without you.
I invite you to share in our special activities, across all traditional and digital platforms throughout the entire week. In closing, I extend my deepest gratitude to the organising team, which includes representatives from the ministry and its public bodies as well as our tourism stakeholder groups, for what I am sure will be a very engaging and productive week.
Thank you and God bless you all.