Jamaicans must feel the benefit of tourism success – Holness
TRELAWNY, Jamaica – As tourism continues to be one of the main engines of economic growth, with record arrivals and earnings, it is important that Jamaicans feel the benefit of the sector’s success, says Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
Holness, who was speaking at the recent opening of the new US$40-million Hideaway at Royalton Blue Waters, Trelawny, said “the man on the street” must feel that he has a chance of getting his slice of the lucrative tourism pie.
“It can’t just be prosperity for some… but prosperity for all. When the man on the street hears about three million visitors or four million visitors… or US$4.2 billion in earnings… we want [him] to understand how he benefits from [those numbers],” he emphasised.
“He must understand our mission of shared prosperity… he must see and feel the benefits. Royalton Blue Waters, by virtue of the 400 workers employed here, is a part of that mission, which brings us one step closer to that [shared vision],” he added.
Holness expressed pleasure at the number of hotels being built, and said it is imperative to get more Jamaican products into these properties.
He noted the importance of strengthening the linkages between tourism and sectors such as agriculture and industry.
“I cannot stress that enough. Yes, the opening of hotels has been driving employment, especially during the construction and operational phases but we now have to look to the new frontier,” he said.
He pointed out, for example, “if we have three million visitors, that means our poultry-producing industry should be massive because we should be producing [to feed them]…we should have all the tomatoes and lettuce and cabbage and potatoes produced right here”.
Holness stressed that tourism is “not just through employment, but [also] the consumption of Jamaican-made goods and services by the people who come here, because in effect that is the completion of the Jamaican experience”.
He said that Jamaica has the potential to exceed its current record arrival figures, which is estimated to reach 4.1 million in 2023, with $4.3 billion in earnings.
“A decade ago, we were at about two million visitors coming. I think… we could do eight million. I think we can; we must be ambitious,” the PM said.
He noted that Jamaica has the diversity in its tourism product to attract many visitors.
“We are near shore to the United States; we are English-speaking largely; we have a culture that is alluring, and we have a name recognised in the global travel industry,” he highlighted.