Kingston, Jamaica – Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett is leading a collaborative effort between public and private sector stakeholders to build capacity and systematically address the pain points in the tourism industry.
Minister Bartlett made the disclosure following a meeting with industry partners, which he led in conjunction with the president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Robin Russell, yesterday (January 11) at the AC Marriott Hotel.
Minister Bartlett outlined that the four focus areas assigned to the working groups will be Public Order in Tourism Spaces, Visitor Facilitation, Tourism Housing and Human Resources.
Noting the resilience and growth demonstrated by Jamaica’s tourism sector over the last year, Minister Bartlett said: “In 2023 we welcomed a total of 4.15 million visitors, which is a substantial 24% increase over the previous year. This reflects the remarkable appeal of Destination Jamaica.”
He added that: “This includes 2,886,064 stopover visitors, which marks a 16.4% rise over the figure recorded in 2022. Additionally, there were 1,265,586 cruise arrivals recorded for the year, representing a whopping 48.3% increase over the number of cruise passengers that visited the island in 2022.” The Minister added that: “This surge in visitors generated foreign exchange earnings of US$4.27 billion, which represents an 18% increase over the revenue secured in 2022.”
“Our impressive growth figures underscore the effectiveness of our tourism strategies. However, our commitment must be to propel the industry even higher,” the Minister said.
Increasing Stopover Arrivals
He stressed that with Jamaica anticipating some 3 million stopover visitors in 2024, boosting capacity is key moving forward. “Our success in 2023 is a testament to the enduring partnerships between the public and private sectors. Moving ahead, we are resolute in building the necessary capacity to meet the heightened demand projected for 2024 and beyond,” Mr. Bartlett noted.
Minister Bartlett further explained that in direct response to the escalating targets and increased demand, yesterday’s meeting focused on strategic measures to strengthen the industry going forward.
On the issue of human capital development and the shortage of workers, Minister Bartlett highlighted the ongoing work of the task force which was formed to examine labour market arrangements in tourism. “The goal is to enhance the industry’s workforce, fostering a stronger and better sense of appreciation for the invaluable contributions of our workers,” he expressed.
Emphasising the importance of improving the airport experience to facilitate a seamless arrival for visitors, Minister Bartlett said during the meeting stakeholders examined ways to enhance overall visitor satisfaction and maintain the positive image of Destination Jamaica.