The tourism ministry is working on an initiative to increase tourist arrivals to five million people in the next four years. This is forecasted to pull in earnings of $5 billion.
Making his contribution to the 2008/2009 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said the ministry would, to achieve this target, be aiming for double-digit growth each year in both arrivals and expenditure up to 2012.
At the same time, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) is seeking to increase stopover arrivals by 11.6 per cent per annum; move cruise passenger arrivals by 6.3 per cent and increase gross foreign exchange earning by 11 per cent each year in the next three years.
For this year, the JTB intends to increase stopover visitors by 13.5 per cent or two million people while cruise-ship visitors should move up by 1.9 per cent to 1.25 million.
The Government is also projecting that hotel rooms will increase to 30,000 by the end of 2008.
Bartlett also commented on the issue of casino gambling.
He said the companies that would be granted casino licences, Celebration Jamaica and Harmony Cove, would add more than 10,000 new luxury rooms to the accommodation stock.
He said these two resorts would employ approximately 25,000 workers and earnings to the Government from these two properties could yield in excess of $30 billion per annum.
Declaring that Jamaica was the spa mecca of the western world, Bartlett said the Government would be spending a total of $250 million to refurbish the Milk River Bath and Spa in Clarendon and the Bath Fountain Hotel and Spa in St Thomas. Work is expected to begin shortly.
A health tourism facility will also be built at Rose Hall in Montego Bay, St James.