Addressing the weekly meeting of the Trafalgar New Heights Rotary Club, Mr. Brown said the latest development between the USA and Cuba, presents a platform to further advance “multi-destination” tourism marketing across the Caribbean, of which, he said, “there has been much talk in the region.”
“There are persons who make the argument and…case that the opening up of Cuba is likely to impact our (Jamaica’s) tourism industry in a negative manner (particularly in relation to the United States market)…it is a view that the Minister of Tourism (Dr. Wykeham McNeill) doesn’t share,” he said.
The State Minister said Dr. McNeill has been quoted as saying that: “any increased competition that Cuba will present in the North American market should not be feared, but rather embraced, as we seek to forge an even stronger partnership which will redound to the benefit of both our nations, and the Caribbean, as a whole.”
Mr. Brown argued that Jamaica, as an established global brand, “has significant competitive advantage in terms of our tourism product”, adding that “we really have not ‘maxed’ it out, in its entirety, yet.”
The State Minister noted that Jamaica currently serves as a gateway into Cuba for most Americans who currently travel to the latter country, in the absence of formal direct flight arrangements between the United States and Cuba.
This, he pointed, is expected to change consequent on the diplomatic re-engagement between the United States and Cuba, which, he said, is expected facilitate more “ease of movement” between the countries, as announced recently by US President, Barack Obama.
“I…believe that there is an opportunity for persons (who will be) vacationing in Cuba to also visit Jamaica. They are 90 miles to the north of us, which is not very far from here,” the State Minister contended.
In addition, Mr. Brown said the arrangements between the US and Cuba will provide opportunities for locally operated hotel chains to tap into or re-enter that market “to take advantage of the (visitor) traffic that is going to come there.”