Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, is encouraging the financial sector to explore investment opportunities in the tourism industry to spur growth, which has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Minister Bartlett stated that the multi-dimensional nature of Jamaica’s tourism sector offers countless opportunities for investment, in areas such as accommodation, human capital development, attractions, travel technology, agro-tourism, green projects, nutraceuticals, manufacturing and supporting infrastructure that improves the visitor experience.
Minister Bartlett made the remarks during a meeting with members of the Caribbean Alternative Investment Association (CARAIA), at the AC Hotel by Marriott in Kingston.
Minister Bartlett said: “Investment will play a critical role in building out this new look tourism product, as it provides the funds necessary to construct and upgrade tourism projects essential to the development and growth of tourism capacity. The success of any tourist destination is dependent to a large degree on the nature of the facilities and service infrastructure available to visitors.”
During his presentation, the Minister also highlighted the findings of a recently conducted Tourism Demand Study, which found that there was a vast untapped market for high quality, fresh produce, which is essential to hotels, restaurants and attractions.
Specifically, it states that the estimated total value of demand for agricultural products in the tourism sector is €218.3 million. Food items in the poultry, meats and seafood category alone accounted for 75% of this total value, while fruits accounted for another 10%.
According to the findings of the study, based on the value of expenditure on the importation of certain items, there were excellent opportunities for increased linkages with local producers. These items included products such as bed frames and headboards, chairs, pillows, sanitizers, standing lamps, toothpaste, towels, cantaloupe, iceberg lettuce, Irish potatoes, red jumbo onions, rice, and sweet corn.
Minister Bartlett also used the opportunity to highlight that despite the impact of the pandemic, the investment climate remains positive with 90% of the planned investments on target. In the year since the reopening of Jamaica’s borders (June 2020 to June 2021) the country welcomed over 837,000 stopover visitors with arrivals increasing an average of 20% each month since reopening; and many of our 170,000 directly employed tourism workers are now back on the job.
Minister Bartlett said: “189,001 stopover visitors were expected for July 2021; cruise arrivals are to resume in August 2021. For January to December 2021, it is projected that Jamaica will receive 1.7m visitors; and for January to December 2021, the estimated foreign exchange earnings are €1.7 billion.”
Looking further ahead to 2022, Jamaica is projected to welcome 3.2m visitors while earning €2.3bn in revenue. Also, by 2023 it is projected that Jamaica will welcome 3.7m visitors and earn €3bn in revenue. By 2024, it is anticipated that the island will be back on track for 4.2m visitors and €3.4bn in tourism revenue.
Minister Bartlett said: “Investment in tourism offers one of the best opportunities for Jamaica to recover and strengthen its economy. CARAIA can be a strong voice as we seek to promote, attract and facilitate productive investment in Jamaica’s tourism industry and in doing so, this will place us more effectively on the world’s alternative investment stage.”
Minister Bartlett also highlighted the trend towards a digital marketplace in the tourism sector, which is poised to intensify post-Covid-19.
“The pandemic has taught us that organisations that fail to successfully incorporate digital technologies into their business models will likely fail in their quest to ensure adaptability, agility and competitiveness in the post-Covid-19 era”, said Minister Bartlett. “The ability of players in the global tourism sector to adapt to the impact of the pandemic has been undoubtedly aided by digital technologies.”
The Minister projects that based on this trend, most travel and tourism-related business, including destination research, booking, and paying for experiences during a vacation, will be done virtually.
Minister Bartlett added: “The trend thus instructs all tourism enterprises, micro, small, medium-sized and large, to find ways to embrace digital technologies and develop their digital architectures, or face the risk of being left behind.”