Minister of Tourism Edmond Bartlett said a preliminary report from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) is showing that the sector earned between US$3.7 billion and US$3.8 billion in 2019. This is US$500 million more than in 2018.
Speaking at a press conference at the JTB offices in New Kingston, on Wednesday (Jan 15), Mr Bartlett said stopover arrivals for the year grew by eight per cent. The minister described the industry’s performance as “spectacular and exciting”.
“The measure of tourism is both arrivals and earnings, but the most powerful part of it is the earnings, which have increased by US$1.8 billion in just over three years,” the minister said. Bartlett argued that the continued growth in tourism results from the setting of targets, which he did after assuming office in 2016.
“The best part of our success is in the retention increase that we have had in the dollar,” Bartlett said, explaining that in 2016, Jamaica was retaining 30 cents in every dollar earned in the industry, but it is now at 40.8 cents, a 30 per cent increase. He said the government moved quickly to ensure an end to the seasonality of tourism and to make it an all-year activity that provides employment security to workers. The Minister emphasised that growth in the sector is not just for the administration. “It is the result of the stakeholders, the hoteliers and the little worker,” he added.
Meanwhile, the minister reported that the country has already outperformed, by 2,000, the projection to have 127,000 persons employed in the sector by 2021 and that all the other targets are almost reached.