“Tourism is a viable sector that can benefit all of us,” he said, adding that if carefully leveraged, tourism can benefit the socio-economic growth of all people in society.
Minister Bartlett was speaking at the Thanksgiving Service to commemorate the start of Tourism Awareness Week, at the St. John’s Methodist Church, Montego Bay, on September 24.
He said the Ministry is seeking to create an inclusive industry that will be better able to help with poverty alleviation and realise sustainable growth.
This, he explained, will be achieved through the “strengthening of linkages in tourism and other sectors of the economy”.
The Tourism Linkages Network, he argued, will increase the consumption of local goods and services, create employment and generate more foreign exchange earnings. This, he said, is in keeping with the designation of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development.
Mr. Bartlett said the celebration of Tourism Awareness Week is timely, as Jamaica has been experiencing record arrivals.
“For the first eight months of this calendar year (January to August), there was a 6.9 per cent increase in stopover arrivals, in comparison to the corresponding period of 2016,” he said.
He argued that as the sector continues to flourish, “it opens up many avenues for entrepreneurs who are interested in entering the market”, and the Ministry will be seeking to put in place practical initiatives to help business operators take advantage of the opportunities being offered by the industry.
“We realise that access to financing is a major factor for local small and medium tourism enterprises, so we have made available loan funds to enable these businesses to build capacity so that they are better able to supply goods and services to the expanding tourism sector,” he shared.
In addition to this, he outlined that tourism will be used as an effective tool for boosting economic growth and transforming communities through the Community-based Tourism Initiative, which will ultimately benefit the entire country.
He highlighted that with the historic United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) conference to be held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre from November 27 to 29, the Ministry will be given the opportunity to increase awareness of the role tourism can play in achieving social and economic growth.
The major outcome of the conference, he said, will be the “Montego Bay Declaration, an action plan for creating a more sustainable tourism sector”, one that generates income, employment, and stimulates trade and linkages.
Tourism Awareness Week is being celebrated from September 24 to October 1, under the theme ‘Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development’.
- Countries: Jamaica