(JIS) — Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says Jamaica has welcomed one million visitors to its shores in the first nine weeks of 2019.
He said this has provided foreign exchange earnings of approximately US$800 million.
“The industry is now at the peak of its growth, and the beauty about us in tourism is that we make new peaks… because we are in a constant state of growth and evolution. This peak has allowed Jamaica to be the first Caribbean destination in nine weeks to welcome one million visitors,” Bartlett said.
The tourism minister was speaking at the opening of the Grand-A-View Restaurant and Event Place in Montego Bay, St James, on Saturday (March 9).
Bartlett said with the continued growth in the tourism industry, the Ministry is taking steps to further develop Jamaica’s Gastronomy Network, to ensure that “ordinary Jamaicans” benefit significantly from the positive trends in the sector.
“Eighty-Eight per cent of the world travels for food experiences, and Jamaica has the best opportunity to create the finest of the food experiences that any visitor could hope for. This experience must be owned by the people of Jamaica not foreigners,” the tourism minister stated.
“Food tourism is going to be the major drive for a greater experiential tourism product in Jamaica, but it is also going to be the basis on which a larger number of ordinary Jamaicans are going to be involved in the value chain of tourism,” he added.
Meanwhile, Bartlett informed that the Tourism Linkages Network is to spend more than $300 million in the 2019/20 fiscal year towards the further development of the industry.
“We are starting out by reimaging the Lilliput area where now we have pretty close to 3,000 rooms. By the end of this year, we would have broken ground for about 2,000 more rooms in the Rose Hall area. What that is going to mean is a demand for Jamaican goods and services,” he emphasised.
The primary objective of the Tourism Linkages Network is to increase the consumption of goods and services that can be competitively sourced locally. It also aims to create employment while generating and retaining the country’s foreign exchange earning potential.