Blue Ocean Strategy key to rebuilding local tourism industrySunday, May 02, 2021
Tourism is a key driver of economies across the world, including that of Jamaica, through job creation, export revenues, infrastructure development and new business. However, the tourism sector, like many other sectors, was devastated by the novel coronavirus pandemic, which led to the closure of Jamaica's borders to international travel on March 21, 2020.
This resulted in the shuttering of tourism establishments, including hotels, villas, attractions, shopping malls and ground transportation. For April and May, there was virtually no activity in the major components of the tourism sector. This led to a reduction in revenue for tourism operators and also those entities that supply the tourism industry, leading to widespread job losses.
The effects of the pandemic were also felt throughout the economy as tourism's interconnectedness with other industries, including manufacturing, agriculture, entertainment, banking and utilities, has resulted in wide-scale financial fallout. Utility service providers, including the National Water Commission and the Jamaica Public Service Company, as well as a range of other players in the economy, to this day continue to feel the tremendous squeeze from tourism's contraction.
The extent of the fallout in tourism is captured in the following figures:
• For the last fiscal year, the Jamaican Government lost direct revenue from the tourism sector of $46.3 billion through airport charges and taxes, Guest Accommodation Room Tax (GART), General Consumption Tax, Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) collections, cruise taxes, and other Government taxes.
• With the reopening of the borders on June 15, the total number of stopover arrivals up to March 2021 was approximately 464, 348, as there were no cruise visitors during this period.
• With the anticipated number of arrivals of 2.8 million stopover visitors for the April 2020 to March 2021 period, the estimated retained visitor expenditure was $199.4 billion.
• However, with almost 500,000 visitors for the same period, the expenditure was only $44.7 billion and as such, the loss in visitor expenditure was $154.7 billion.
• Arrivals at the end of 2020, were 1.3 million, of this 880,404 were from stopover arrivals and 449,271 from cruise. This represents a 68 per cent decrease from the 4.3 million visitors to the island over the same period in 2019.
• Jamaica also recorded US$1.3 billion in earnings, which was a 62.6 per cent decline in comparison to 2019.
We were not deterred by these challenges, but viewed this unprecedented crisis as a transformational opportunity, as we seek to rebuild our tourism economy. It has forced us to create a new plan for how we can reset the tourism industry and place tourism on a path to recovery to fuel growth in the wider economy.
The Blue Ocean Strategy
The strategic framework for resetting Jamaica's tourism will be guided by the Blue Ocean Strategy. It will allow us to meet our growth targets of five million visitors, five billion dollars and 5,000 new rooms by 2025.
A Blue Ocean Strategy calls for the creation of business models that depart from traditional models based on competition and standardisation. It will see Jamaica's Ministry of Tourism pursuing enhanced value creation, through product differentiation and diversification, which will allow our destination open up new markets and create new demand in a unique and uncontested space.
Over the long term, a vital component of the Blue Ocean Strategy will be to strengthen the systems for tourism zoning and theming, so that the unique characteristics of each destination area will be preserved and enhanced to support their own distinct brand appeal.
Resetting Jamaica's tourism will identify and establish innovative policies, systems, protocols, and standards that assure our visitors a safer, secure, and seamless experience while building out a new national tourism model, based on a diversified portfolio of unique and authentic attractions and activities, which draw heavily on Jamaica's natural and cultural assets.
The marketing and promotional challenges created by the pandemic have provided an opportunity for recalibration and reengineering of strategies that were already in motion.
Indeed, COVID-19 presents an opportunity to 'Build Forward Stronger' through the application of our Blue Ocean Strategy, so that we can: Attract a diverse set of visitors who want a uniquely Jamaican experience; leverage local linkages for the supplies and tourism experiences; and build a future that is even more resilient, safe and sustainable.
Resetting our tourism sector to build forward stronger can only be achieved by focusing on building strong local capacity with a relentless focus on quality. We must stabilise the industry while creating an incubator for more inclusive enterprises and also focus on building a strong enabling environment.
By applying the Blue Ocean Strategy to reset tourism, the sector will, within the first two years, return to its pre-COVID-19 performance with arrivals and economic returns. We will therefore continue to push forward with a spirit of hope for a brighter future, which is prosperous for every Jamaican.
Honourable Edmund Bartlett, CD, is Jamaica's Minister of Tourism, Leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives, and Member of Parliament for St James East Central.
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