Jamaica Prime Minister Calls for Further Boost in Arrivals and Strengthening of Linkages

Jamaica
image courtesy of Jamaica Tourism Ministry
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Written by Linda Hohnholz

Jamaica Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has challenged the Ministry of Tourism to work closely with tourism partners to significantly boost tourist arrivals and strengthen linkages with other sectors, in particular agriculture.

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The impact of tourism goes beyond the confines of the industry itself; it ripples through various sectors creating a web of opportunities for people. Jobs created by tourism extend into agriculture, entertainment, attractions, communications and transportation, to name a few,” noted Jamaica Prime Minister Holness.

He was giving the keynote address during a special ribbon cutting ceremony marking the official opening of the new 352-room, Hideaway at Royalton Blue Waters, in Trelawny on December 13, 2023. With an investment of US$40 million, the development was executed in just six months.

Jamaica
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (left), and President of Blue Diamond Resorts, Jordi Pelfort (center) join Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness in cutting the ribbon to officially declare open the 352-room, Hideaway at Royalton Blue Waters, in Trelawny, on Wednesday, December 13, 2023. 

With Jamaica on record pace to secure some 4.1 million visitors this year, so soon after the fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Holness told Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, “I think we could do eight million.” In outlining his vision, Mr. Holness continued: “I think we can,” he added, “we must be ambitious,” noting that “Jamaica has the diversity in its tourism product to attract that many visitors.” 

He said while he was pleased with the tremendous growth of the industry so far, “I think we must set new targets; we need to be pushing ourselves more because we have the potential.” Prime Minister Holness stated that “we as a people must now begin to focus on the elements of our society, our culture; the things that define us as a people to achieve these ambitious goals which will increase our prosperity.”

He referenced the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s most recent report that for the period July to September 2023, Jamaica experienced growth of 1.9% in real terms over the similar quarter for 2022, noting that, “the hotel and restaurant sector experienced 8% growth.”

With that achievement however, Mr. Holness said for more persons to benefit from the tourism industry greater attempts must be made to strengthen the linkages between tourism and all the other industries, especially agriculture. While the sustained impact on labor is seen in every new room that is constructed, asserting that he could not stress it enough, he reiterated that:

He acknowledged that significant progress is already being made through the Tourism Linkages Network, a division of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF). This includes the success of the annual Speed Networking and Christmas in July events; as well as the Agri-Linkages Exchange (ALEX) platform, which has generated some $1 billion in sales by small farmers. The initiative sees small farmers with 3-acre and 5-acre lots as well as backyard farmers selling to local hotels and restaurants. The ALEX platform, a collaborative initiative between the TEF and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), has revolutionized the interaction between hoteliers and farmers.

However, the Prime Minister called for even more progress beyond what has already been achieved. Mr. Holness said he wanted to make it clear to all partners in the development of tourism that the next step in strengthening their brands and products, “is to ensure that there is a symbiotic link, not just to employment, but to the consumption of Jamaican made goods and services to the people who come here.” He underscored that “the next frontier of the government is to make sure that more Jamaican products get into the hotels.” 

Thanking Blue Diamond for coming to Jamaica and “the confidence that they continue to show in Destination Jamaica,” Minister Bartlett hinted at further investments by the company, which has a collaboration with the Marriott international hotel chain.

Blue Diamond Resorts bought the property 12 years ago and President of Blue Diamond Resorts, Jordi Pelfort pledged that “we are going to stay for a long time” as he expressed gratitude to the Jamaican government and people. He also lauded the leadership of Jamaican women against the background of Jamaican Kerry Ann Quallo-Casserly being Regional Commercial Director, Jamaica at Blue Diamond Resorts, which employs approximately 95% of Jamaicans across its hotels in Negril and Falmouth.

SEEN IN MAIN IMAGE: Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (left), President of Blue Diamond Resorts, Jordi Pelfort (center) and Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett stroll through the property of Blue Diamond Resorts after officially declaring open the 352-room, Hideaway at Royalton Blue Waters, in Trelawny, on Wednesday, December 13, 2023. With an investment of US$40 million, the development was executed in just six months. 

About the author

Avatar of Linda Hohnholz

Linda Hohnholz

Editor in chief for eTurboNews based in the eTN HQ.

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