Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett have welcomed the latest investment of just under US$1.5 million in the tourism sector’s latest innovative attraction, the Red Stripe Experience at Ricks Café, Negril.
Ground was broken yesterday (January 27), for the iconic experience, which is slated to be ready for the leisure market in October 2021, offering an interactive audio-visual tour that captures the history of two world renowned brands, the acclaimed Red Stripe Beer and the award-winning Rick’s Café, interwoven into Jamaica’s exciting cultural mix.
In welcoming the investment, Prime Minister Holness urged tourism interests to make similar cash injections to improve their existing properties, amid the current COVID-19 pandemic. “It is also the time to look at your plant and get it up to scratch. Now is the time to do all those physical changes to the plant that you couldn’t do while you have guests,” he expressed.
Minister Bartlett indicates that he is particularly pleased with investments such as that being made by Red Stripe, which will capitalize on the island’s natural assets by leveraging its culture and heritage to tell the authentic Jamaican story. “Attractions like these will get visitors out of the hotels to experience the real Jamaica,” he outlined.
Welcoming the ground-breaking for the Red Stripe Experience at Rick’s Café as an example of the vision and investor confidence needed to jumpstart Jamaica’s post-COVID-19 recovery, Minister Bartlett said the pandemic-induced crisis was severely testing resilience across all sectors of the economy. However, he says there was a choice in facing this major test, of either being defeated or rising to the challenge.
Pre-pandemic the tourism industry was experiencing record growth, being responsible for 9.5% of GDP in 2019, contributing 50% of foreign exchange earnings and generating some 354,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs. “The Jamaica Tourist Board’s preliminary figures for 2020 indicate that we welcomed 1,297,094 visitors, comprising of 847,823 stopover arrivals and 449,271 cruise passenger arrivals, which brought in some US$1.3 billion in earnings. This represents just a fraction of 2019’s 4.3 million visitors and US$3.7 billion in earnings,” he emphasized.
“Despite the pandemic-induced setbacks, there is no doubt that the tourism players have an unwavering desire to bounce back. It is going to be a slow and arduous process, but we are doing everything we possibly can to get the tourism industry fully back on track, more hotels and attractions open and more workers back on the job,” assured Minister Bartlett.
Mr. Bartlett said the pandemic had forced a rethink of strategies and charting of a new course towards effective recovery and sustainable development.
“Investment will be key to our recovery effort as we seek to uncover hidden opportunities in tourism amid the COVID-era economic crisis. I am therefore pleased that investors continue to show confidence in the Jamaican tourism market and are finishing projects already started,” he said.