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Steps being taken to reset Jamaica Tourism sector

Jamaica Tourism Minister Hon. Edmund Bartlett (left) gets a brief lesson in the chemistry behind the production of quality rums from consultant at Worthy Park Estates, Jean Bennett (right). Mr. Bartlett had an extensive tour of the 350-year old facility recently and got a feel of the estate’s rum tour. Looking on are Tour Supervisor, Shunna-Gay Mitchell (2nd left) and Managing Director and CEO of Worthy Park, Gordon Clarke.

Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has revealed that steps are currently being taken to ‘reset’ the tourism sector to ensure that it benefits even more Jamaicans and fuels greater economic growth, whenever the sector rebounds from the impact of COVID-19. Mr. Bartlett adds that the Ministry of Tourism has embarked upon a series of consultations with key stakeholders, aimed at maximizing the opportunity to reorganize the local tourism industry.

“I think that this is a good moment for Jamaica to really reset tourism so that we become a more inclusive industry, and the flow-through effect on the economy that tourism has the capacity to provide, is then realized,” said Minister Bartlett.

Mr. Bartlett outlined that the tourism ministry is currently in dialogue with JAMPRO regarding the initiative, adding that he has also had discussions with his colleague, Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Aubyn Hill. Minister Bartlett noted that the discussions are intended “to look at how we start that whole arrangement, first of all to have an analysis of the supply side and then the demand side.”

In resetting the tourism industry, Minister Bartlett said after making a determination on what is required to satisfy demand and supply, “the next move will be to the financial and technical markets and we acquire that technology, and we bring that to bear, to enable us to create that capability.”

He said the downturn created by the COVID-19 pandemic had provided the opportunity to give the global tourism industry a new start and to take it to a higher level than where it was, having peaked at a 60 percent occupancy rate for some countries but not Jamaica.

“This is the opportunity for us to do that. I want to continue this debate and in fact I am going to have a paper done on this reset of the tourism industry and we begin to talk with our partners so that there’s an understanding of what needs to be done in the next six months or so, as we try to reposition tourism as a true driver of the economy and as a means by which a far greater number of our Jamaican people will realize their true potential,” said Minister Bartlett.

Mr. Bartlett’s disclosure of the latest tourism initiative was made following an extensive tour of the 350-year-old Worthy Park Estate, which has developed a tour that adds to Destination Jamaica’s product offering and has been appealing to both locals and visitors.

Commenting on the Worthy Park Rum Tour, Mr. Bartlett described it as “a first class tour.” It covers all aspects of the process that goes into producing some of Jamaica’s finest rums for the local and export markets, from the sprawling cane fields spanning 10,000 acres, through distillery and aging.

Minister Bartlett said tours like these were a big part of the tourism product “because people come to fulfil their passions and they have passion points relating to all sorts of activities in life, and certainly rums and spirits have been a huge part of the consumption pattern of visitors for many centuries.” He stated that the three most consumed liquids worldwide were water, coffee and rum, in that order.

With rum accounting for 65 percent of alcoholic based liquids consumed: “A rum tour with a Jamaican rum experience provides an opportunity for us to tap into that part of the market that is excited by rum consumption,” said Minister Bartlett.

It was outlined that the rum tour had a soft opening prior to the onset of the pandemic and welcomed some 1,000 tourists, and since reopening in May has been seeing mostly locals. Mr. Bartlett, accompanied by Director of the Tourism Linkages Network, Mrs. Carolyn McDonald-Riley, was escorted on the tour by Managing Director and CEO of Worthy Park, Gordon Clarke and members of his team.

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