My fellow tourism workers and stakeholders in the industry, today we join the world in celebrating World Tourism Day, under the theme: ‘Tourism and Jobs: a better future for all.’
World Tourism Day is commemorated each year with celebrations led by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO). Its purpose is to foster awareness among the global community of tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value and the contribution the sector can make in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.
According to the UNWTO, tourism is a major source of employment globally because of its labor-intensive nature and the significant multiplier effect on employment in related sectors. It is estimated that one job in the core tourism sector creates about one-and-a-half additional or indirect jobs in the tourism-related economy. Overall tourism accounts for one in ten jobs worldwide.
Tourism is regarded as the fastest growing industry, contributing a great deal to economies around the world. In fact, tourism accounts for 11 per cent of global GDP, second only to the finance and banking industry’s 19 percent.Jamaica’s tourism growth mirrors the growth globally. Tourism is our top foreign exchange earner, a major job creator and a driving force for economic growth. Locally it contributes 9% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and about 20 percent of GDP, in terms of revenue.
Earnings in the tourism sector also increased from US$3 billion in 2017 to US$3.3 billion in 2018. It is currently increasing at 8.4 percent and is expected to reach US$3.7 billion in 2019.
It is also important to note that, as of January 2019 the tourism sector employed 120,500 people, or nine percent of Jamaica’s labor force, while generating indirect jobs for another 250,000 persons, or one in every 5 Jamaicans.
These jobs are linked in sectors such as technology, agriculture, the creative industries, manufacturing, transportation and other services.
Employment in hotels and restaurants rose by four percent between January 2017 and January 2019 — this represents about 5,000 more jobs created, than in the previous two-year period. Central to this growth is you, the workers of the industry.
This tourism growth underscores the invaluable worth of the sector as a powerful driver of economic and social development. The continued growth of the tourism sector in Jamaica will depend on the right people with the right skills being available to meet the new human capital demands of the sector.
The tourism industry has been changing globally, with technology being a driving force in knowledge and innovation. Technology is changing the way in which business models were being conducted and changing the way in which we understand things.
Therefore, we have been building the capacity of our workers to better meet the needs of the industry in this new ‘internet of things’. We want to appeal to our people who are deeply interested in uniting the new values that this technology will bring to make us fit for purpose and more so, remain fashionable and relevant.
The Tourism Linkages Network is one such initiative within the Ministry, which continues to find creative ways to ensure that the benefits of tourism filter down to the average Jamaican and foster economic growth.
They have developed a number of business-to-business initiatives such as Speed Networking, Christmas in July and Agri-Linkages Exchange (ALEX), Jamaica Suppliers Directory and the National Community Tourism Portal, which allow smaller players in the industry to get a slice of the tourism pie.
Through the Tourism Enhancement Fund, we have created, the Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation (JCTI), which is a pathway institution that provides international accreditation for our workers who are competent on the job but not certified.
Some 650 high-school students across the island are also benefitting from the JCTI’s $100-million Hospitality and Tourism Management Program (HTMP), which will see them gaining internationally recognized certification in the industry.
We have also forged a partnership with the University of the West Indies for a Graduate School of Tourism at its Western Jamaican Campus, which will open next September.
Another critical policy we have put in place to ensure a better future for our tourism workers, is the recently passed Tourism Worker’s Pension Scheme, which is a defined contributory scheme embracing some 350,000 workers across the sector.
Prioritizing human capital development is an absolute necessity, as we seek to improve employment opportunities in the sector and sustain our award-winning and globally competitive tourism product. It is for this reason, we are proud to join the world in celebrating a day, which embraces the theme, “Tourism and Jobs: a better future for all.”
I wholeheartedly thank my team at the Ministry of Tourism as well as our very important stakeholders, for the contribution they have made to the development of this sector – particularly in the provision of training opportunities and a variety of jobs for the people of this great nation of Jamaica.
Hon. Edmund Bartlett, CD, MP
Minister of Tourism