[KINGSTON, Jamaica] – Jamaican Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett painted a picture of Jamaica’s tourism industry as a booming sector with investment and arrivals as it emerges stronger and more resilient to the fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During an upbeat sector presentation to Parliament on Tuesday 5 April, Mr Bartlett said that: “By the end of 2023, the number of visitors to Jamaica is expected to reach 4.1 million. With 1.6 million cruise passengers and 2.5 million stopover arrivals. Even better, $4.2 billion in revenue.
Tourism Strategy and Action Plan (TSAP)
He said the stage was set with a number of initiatives that have been put in place. Some are already showing positive results. A Tourism Strategy and Action Plan (TSAP) has been developed to help strengthen the competitiveness of the destination and products. Additionally, build resilience, as well as develop and deploy mechanisms to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the sector. The TSAP should be finalized during this exercise.
At the same time, the implementation of the Blue Ocean Policy Framework introduced last year, will continue to guide the collection of data on changing visitor preferences. Also, arrange for appropriate accommodations and experiences. Additionally, ensuring proper governance arrangements and most importantly, training a top-notch workforce to share state-of-the-art goods and services with visitors.
With new investments and new targeted markets, the stage is now set for a return to the pre-COVID-19 growth model.
Booming investments in Jamaica
Despite the challenges facing the industry, Bartlett said the investment climate was booming Jamaica is experiencing its largest expansion of hotel and resort development in a single year. “A total of $2 billion will be invested to bring 8,500 rooms into service over the next five to ten years. Create some 24,000 part-time and full-time jobs and at least 12,000 jobs for construction workers,” he pointed out.
Currently under construction, the 2,000-room Princess Resort in Hannover, nearly 2,000 rooms in the multifaceted Hard Rock Resort development comprised of three other hotel brands; just under 1,000 rooms are built by Sandals and Beaches in St. Ann.
In addition, the hotel infrastructure will be reinforced by the 1,000 rooms Viva Wyndham Resort north of Negril, RIU Hotel in Trelawny with around 700 rooms, Secrets Resort in Richmond St. Ann with around 700 rooms and Bahia Principe undertaking massive expansion by its parent company, Grupo Piñero, outside of Spain.
Minister Bartlett said he was pleased that 90% of planned tourism investment remained on track, citing this as “a huge vote of confidence from our investors in Brand Jamaica”.
He postulated that these developments in the tourism industry “will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the economy and will directly benefit thousands of Jamaicans”, adding that “at least 12,000 construction workers, several construction contractors construction, engineers, project managers and a variety of other specialists will be needed to ensure the timely completion of these projects.In addition, thousands of tourism workers need to be trained in areas such as management, catering services, housekeeping, guided tours and reception.
Destination development and management plan
The axis of development also includes the continuation of the modernization of Negril. In accordance with a Destination Management Plan to be finalized this fiscal year. Bartlett said the planned investments in 13 projects will ensure Negril keeps pace with or even surpasses similar destinations in the region. Marquee projects include a town center and beach park, a craft market, a farmer’s market and a fishing village.
On the east end of the island, a first sustainable destination plan is underway for St. Thomas, which will allow visitors and Jamaicans to increasingly enjoy the unique ecosystems and cultural heritage of the parish. The St. Thomas tourism destination development and management plan as a new frontier will see approximately $205 million in public investment and more than double that amount in private investment.
Beginning this fiscal year, the Department of Tourism will develop Rocky Point Beach. Also, establish orientation stations at Yallahs and rehabilitate the road leading to the Bath Fountain Hotel. As well as leveraging strategic partnerships to develop heritage sites such as Fort Rocky and the Morant Bay Monument. Meanwhile, other branches of government are undertaking major improvements to road and water systems.