Big tourism boost

TripAdvisor rankings huge vote of confidence in Jamaica, says Bartlett

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

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The latest TripAdvisor rankings which place Jamaica as the Number One Caribbean Destination and the 14th Best Destination in the World are being hailed by Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett as a huge vote of confidence in the country.

Stating that the rankings reflect the quality of the workers and operators of tourism entities, Bartlett also said they have implications for investments.

“When capital is seeking a home it goes to where it is likely to get the best return, and if Jamaica is a favoured destination especially with the kind of growth we are experiencing now the likelihood of them having a good return on their investment will enable them to choose Jamaica. This is a big, big vote of confidence in Jamaica,” Bartlett said yesterday.

Bartlett's comments came against the background of the social travel website's rankings being highlighted in a feature by expert travel writer Debbi Kickham in the online edition of Forbes magazine.

Kickham, in her article published on June 21, stated that after a week-long visit to Jamaica, she was happy to report that the island is filled with alluring charm.

“Is it any wonder, then, that Jamaica, in 2019, has been ranked by TripAdvisor as the Number One Caribbean Destination, and the Number 14 Best Destination in the World? In addition, the International Council of the Pacific Area Travel Writers' Association named Jamaica as the “Destination of the Year”, while TravAlliance Media has lauded it as Best Culinary Destination, Best Wedding Destination, and Best Honeymoon Destination. (All it takes is one look at the overwater bungalows at Sandals Royal Caribbean resort to see why. Overwater bungalows, to be honest, are one of the world's most seductive sanctuaries!),” Kickham wrote.

“But it is Jamaica's friendly people that are one of the biggest reasons for all the acclaim. Jamaican people, I have found, are some of the world's friendliest people, who genuinely wish to see you enjoy their native country. For example, we took a beautiful raft ride down the Martha Brae River and our guide couldn't have been more warm, down-to-earth, and real. You could just tell that he was proud of his island, and wished to share all of its beauty with us,” added Kickham, the former editor of Robb Report Magazine who has covered the luxury market extensively.

“This is a most outstanding performance by destination Jamaica and Sandals to have been elevated above all others and Jamaica continues to have this very favourable ranking by, not just TripAdvisor, but all the partners who evaluate quality performances in the sector,” Bartlett told the Jamaica Observer.

He said the fact that Jamaica continues to be in the minds of visitors “is a clear indication of the quality of work that the people in the industry have been doing, and also the investors who have put a lot of effort into creating the physical plant”.

Added Bartlett: “I think also that there is a statement to be made about the policy and regulatory framework within which the industry operates in Jamaica as we continue to create space for growth and expansion and for innovation.”

Asked what effect the TripAdvisor rankings will have on Jamaica's tourism industry, Bartlett said: “Well, certainly it helps when choices are being made by visitors as to which destination to go, that Jamaica's position comes up, and in all probability the choice is made in our favour.”

Regarded as the world's largest social travel website, TripAdvisor is said to have approximately 315 million reviewers (active and inactive) and about 500 million reviews of hotels, restaurants, attractions and other travel-related businesses.

Jamaica has consistently enjoyed high rankings on the website and yesterday Bartlett argued that the current designations are in line with his ministry's tourism growth trajectory.

“The performance for the year so far has just been phenomenal. We have added more than 120,000 people in the year so far [compared to the same period last year] which has taken us to over two million visitors and we are on the verge of earning $2 billion by next month,” he said. “This is a phenomenal performance; it is showing an 8.3 per cent increase in revenue and a 10.7 per cent increase in arrivals.

“I can't speak with greater pride of the workers of the industry, which is why today (yesterday) I will close the debate on the tourism workers' pension plan. It should be passed today in the House.

“This is a game-changer. It will be the largest pension scheme in the island and arguably the Caribbean... It is going to reduce significantly the current situation where more than 60 per cent of workers in Jamaica do not have a pension plan,” Bartlett said.

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