KINGSTON, Jamaica – On the heels of yesterday’s official swearing in of members of the new cabinet, the newly appointed Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, hit the ground running on his first day in office today (March 8). The Minister, who arrived at approximately 10:00 a.m., took the opportunity to personally greet each member of staff at the New Kingston offices of the Ministry and its agencies and outlined the expectations of each division and entity under the new administration.
The series of meetings facilitated warm interaction between the Minister and staff members as he marked a happy return to the Ministry, and the discussions set the tone for the sector moving forward.
The Minister noted that in keeping with the manifesto outlined by the government, where prosperity and growth are key goals, the tourism industry will be instrumental in achieving growth targets. Mr. Bartlett, who previously served as Tourism Minister from 2007-2011, expressed pleasure at returning to the Ministry for a second stint. He stated that in the upcoming weeks, the Ministry of Tourism and its agencies would have to be carefully examined and key strategies employed to effectively meet new objectives.
“In this new dispensation growth is the mantra. Economic growth and development are the centrepieces of the new administration’s thrust. Tourism has to play a critical and vital role in this regard. We have to go beyond the two and three percent growth we’ve had over the years and get into double digit growth,” he said.
In doing so, he noted that the Ministry would focus on driving economic returns to the industry and earning more. “So we have to look at value added, greater partnerships with stakeholders, and driving new investments,” said Minister Bartlett.
In addition to the growth agenda, special attention will also be given to building human capital within tourism, the improvement of attractions and the positioning of Kingston as an ideal destination.
“We must diversify and expand the range of products that are offered. You won’t get the build-up in arrivals unless you give the people what they want,” said Mr. Bartlett. “Tourism is really about marketing to the passion points of the people. We have to build around those passions so as to drive the demographics that are required to get the earnings that the economy needs,” he added.
The Minister emphasized that he has seen a lot of positive work being done within the industry over the years. However, he urged members of staff to note that a lot more can be done to ensure that the industry realizes its full potential.
“I am prepared to continue to build on the good work that has been done. The good thing about it is that tourism, over time, has had a succession of good work. Each administration seems to have built on the successes of the past but this one has to be different,” stated Minister Bartlett.