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Jamaica’s Tourism Earnings Expected To Exceed US$4 Billion This Year

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Jamaica’s tourism earnings are expected to be “significantly higher” this year, exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels, says Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett.

“We are looking now at earning in excess of US$4 billion this year, which would exceed 2019 figures by US$500 million to US$600 million,” he noted.

He said that visitor arrivals, including from cruise, are projected to be above three million, which is similar to 2019 figures.

“So, all in all, tourism is looking good,” the Minster said.

“We are making sure that the industry is [playing] its key growth role in the wider Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth arrangement,” he said, noting that priority is also being placed on ensuring that the sector is more inclusive, and provides for the well-being of Jamaica as a whole.

The Minister was speaking at a recent Think Tank at the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) head office in Kingston.

Director of Tourism, Donovan White, who also addressed the session, noted that visitors are staying longer in the destination, being more immersive and are spending more.

“In 2019, our average length of stay would have been somewhere around 6.9 nights. In 2022, we are just over eight nights per visitor,” said Mr. White, adding that the average daily rate in 2019 was approximately US $168 per person, per day while in 2022, the rate is US $180 per person, per day.

He noted that during the extended stay, visitors are going to more restaurants, bars, parties, events and are buying more craft and taking more tours.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism will observe Tourism Awareness Week from September 25 to October 1, under the theme: ‘Rethinking Tourism’.

A series of activities have been organised to include a church service and the virtual Edmund Bartlett lecture series on Sunday, September 25; the ‘Style Jamaica’ runway show on Monday, September 26; a tourism opportunities visionary symposium on Tuesday, September 27; a youth forum on Wednesday, September 28; a special virtual knowledge forum on Thursday, September 29; the official launch of the innovation-based tourism incubator on Friday, September 30; school speaking engagements from Monday, September 26 to Friday, September 30; a tourism stakeholder engagement activity and a youth poster competition.

 

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Minister Bartlett Endorses Spatial AI Technology for Advancing Tourism Stakeholder Development

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Photo: Okoye Henry

Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (centre), is joined by Executive Chairman, Sandals Resorts International, Adam Stewart (left), and President, EON Reality, Mats Johansson, as he interacts with Spatial AI technology at Sandals Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on Thursday (October 5). The occasion was the launch of the EON Reality and Sandals Corporate University (SCU) training and development partnership.

Spatial Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is poised to revolutionise training in Jamaica’s tourism industry through virtual and augmented reality platforms for enhancing the education and professional development of staff and stakeholders in the sector.

Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, endorsed the transformative potential of the technology while addressing the launch of the EON Reality and Sandals Corporate University (SCU) training and development partnership at Sandals Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on Thursday (October 5).

“We gather to celebrate the launch of the SCU and the EON Reality XR platform as a milestone innovation that has the potential to dramatically reshape the education and training landscape in the tourism sector and other industries,” Mr. Bartlett stated.

“This is because it focuses on the use of virtual augmented mixed and extended reality, and this will help to fundamentally transform the methods by which we acquire knowledge and exchange training,” he added.

The collaboration promises to impact Jamaica and the Caribbean on a wide scale, with the potential to target over 10,000 employees for upskilling according to the Minister.

Additionally, he said the interactive and immersive approach contributes to securing the future of tourism by equipping the workforce with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in an ever-evolving industry.

“In the current era, characterised by rapid technological changes, endeavours such as the SCU and EON partnership will guarantee Jamaica’s sustained position in tourism as a global leader in education and training,” Mr. Bartlett outlined.

“What we are doing in Jamaica is truly creating the space for leadership. The goal is not to merely establish a platform but, more importantly, it is to herald the advent of a new paradigm in education transformation,” he added.

SCU, as part of the Sandals Resorts International brand, holds an esteemed place in the hospitality sector.

Through the unique adult education programme offered by SCU, team members have access to comprehensive hospitality-specific training and academic qualifications.

The use of EON Reality’s innovative solutions across these diverse programmes demonstrates the versatility of the EON AI Assistant in facilitating learning and teaching across various subject areas.

Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International, Adam Stewart, pointed out that learning has always been and will continue to be at the heart of what defines Sandals and its subsidiaries.

He said the brand is built on human interaction, noting that amidst all the changes, the core of their service remains “person to person, smile to smile”.

“So, my job has been to follow through on what started many, many years ago, to assemble the most extraordinary team of visionaries and find most extraordinary platforms to be able to execute on that dream,” Mr. Stewart explained.

“This [partnership] is going to help so many Caribbean nationals, hopefully starting here, but expanding right through the wider Caribbean and far beyond Sandals Resorts International, so [that] we can train our people and uplift them,” he added.

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S Hotel in Montego Bay Ranked as One of the Best Globally

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Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the Montego Bay based S Hotel’s ranking as one of the best hotels in the world speaks volume as to how brand Jamaica is being viewed in the international marketplace.

Speaking to JIS News following a function in St. James over the weekend (October 8), Mr. Bartlett said the fact that the ranking was coming from Conde Nast Traveler, the world’s foremost travel magazine, makes the honour even the more special.

“Conde Nast Traveler is the Forbes Magazine of the hospitality sector… . If they say you are a big deal, then it simply means you are top-tier stuff,” Mr. Bartlett said.

“Of note and equally significant is that Conde Nast Traveler also ranked the S Hotel as the number-one hotel in the Caribbean and Central America. This is huge and must be celebrated. This is a big win for the S Hotel and, by extension, Jamaica’s tourism product,” he added.

A Jamaican-owned, managed and staffed and a relative newcomer on the Jimmy Cliff Boulevard, more popularly known as the Hip Strip, the S Hotel came in at number 16 on the magazine’s 2023 Best Hotels in the World Readers’ Choice Awards.

The New York City, United States-headquartered Readers’ Choice Awards, and which has been running for 36 years, had some 526,518 participants deciding on the hotel rankings, a list that was dominated by world-renowned brands such as the Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Peninsula and Shangri-La resorts, among other international giants.

“It is an impressive ranking for a hotel that opened in 2019, a year before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. S Hotel is Jamaican in every sense and they are known to be very meticulous in their operations. It is good to see Jamaica’s higher-end resorts getting this attention – the emphasis on Jamaican culture, first-rate service and that family feeling is gaining a lot of traction. Kudos to the phenomenal team there for continually striving for perfection,” Mr. Bartlett said.

Conde Nast, in commenting on S Hotel’s high ranking amongst the world’s best said: “At S Hotel you get the laid-back vibe of a stay in Jamaica with a bit of South Beach, Florida glitz – they even line the deck of their sleek pool with some of the island’s famous white sand.

If that isn’t enough sand for your liking, the hotel also offers private access to idyllic Doctor’s Cave Beach and its gentle surf.

“Inside, the ocean-view rooms are big enough to pass for apartments in some big cities. And they lay a minimalist black and white colour scheme over a beachy aesthetic (lots of wicker furniture, including covering the bathtub) that will leave you feeling maximally relaxed. If it doesn’t, there’s always the Irie Baths and Spa, which has three underground plunge pools (hot, warm, and cold) that provide kinetic energy therapy and send you out feeling totally relaxed, in addition to the usual massages and skin treatment options,” Conde Nast added.

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Business Travel Tourism on the Rise In Jamaica

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Director of Tourism, Jamaica Tourist Board, Donovan White, says Jamaica is experiencing a surge in business travel, which is on its way back to pre-COVID levels.

He informed that the country’s meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) sector is on the rise.

MICE tourism refers to business-related events that are planned, and professionals from the related sector are brought together in a hospitality setting.

Speaking at the Caribbean Meeting and Incentive Travel Exchange (CMITE) Breakfast held at the Secrets Wild Orchid Resort in Montego Bay, St. James, on Tuesday (August 22), Mr. White noted that “business is back, and in-person events are once again being well attended”.

“We here in Jamaica could not be more pleased, as group business has long been a key component of our strategy for the development and growth of the island’s tourism product,” he stated.

The Director of Tourism pointed out that while MICE travel is not measured by percentages due to the varied sizes of the groups and the dynamic nature of meetings, tourism stakeholders have been reporting bookings for large groups, several months ahead of time.

“All our partners are beginning to report that they are [seeing] in their reservations, six months, 12 months, and 18 months ahead for large groups coming back to Jamaica, and that is an extremely good sign for our forecasting ability of arrivals to the destination,” he stated.

The CMITE meetings, which were hosted by wellness brand Questex on the island, connects North American meeting planners and incentive buyers with leading Caribbean and Mexico-based suppliers to foster meaningful industry relationships.

While noting that the island is pleased to have been chosen to host CMITE for the third time, Mr. White outlined that Jamaica has put in the work to ensure that it could once again host meetings of this nature.

“It’s the kind of market that’s built on a lot of sensitivity, so we’ve worked very hard over the last two and a half to three years since COVID, to rebuild Jamaica’s appetite for business travel, meetings, and conventions,” he pointed out.

“Our hotels have adequate meeting spaces, and our partners who are interested in this segment of the market have ensured that their hotels have the necessary facilities to accommodate small, medium, and even 600-person groups,” he added.

The objective of the CMITE series of meetings is to promote Jamaica as a warm-weather destination of choice with the personnel, infrastructure, and strong cultural appeal that will result in reservations for meeting and incentive groups.

More than 40 buyers and planners are participating in the meetings, which are being held from August 21 to 24.

By: 

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Adoption of Blue Ocean Strategy Can Revolutionise Tourism Sector…..Edmund Bartlett.

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Adoption of the Blue Ocean Strategy has the potential to revolutionise Jamaica’s tourism industry in ways that will differentiate the island from its regional competitors, says Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett.

He said that implementation of the strategy will not only stimulate economic growth by attracting new investments and increasing visitor spending but will, in turn, create employment opportunities across various sectors.

The Minister was speaking at the graduation ceremony for the Central Jamaica Social Development Initiative (CJSDI) North West Manchester Youth Entrepreneurship Training, at the Tropics View Hotel, Hatfield, Manchester, on August 17.

The Blue Ocean Strategy, developed by Professors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, suggests that businesses can achieve remarkable success by identifying and capturing untapped market spaces, termed ‘blue oceans’.

“By creating unique and differentiated offerings, Jamaica can stand out in a crowded global market. This will attract travellers seeking novel experiences and position the country as a premier destination for sustainable tourism,”

These blue oceans represent areas where competition is low or nonexistent, allowing businesses to create and capture new demand by focusing on differentiation and innovation rather than competing in overcrowded market spaces.

These organisations can secure long-term growth and profitability.

“By creating unique and differentiated offerings, Jamaica can stand out in a crowded global market. This will attract travellers seeking novel experiences and position the country as a premier destination for sustainable tourism,” the Minister told graduates, parents and other stakeholders.

“By emphasising Jamaica’s cultural heritage and promoting community involvement, the strategy will help preserve and celebrate the island’s rich traditions while providing authentic experiences for visitors,” he added.

Mr. Bartlett said that by targeting new customer segments, the Ministry aims to identify untapped markets, such as adventure tourism, wellness tourism, and eco-tourism, to attract a diverse range of travellers with varied interests, noting that by catering to niche segments and developing tailored experiences, Jamaica can meet the evolving demands of modern travellers.

He said that by pursuing strategic partnerships, the Tourism Ministry also plans to foster collaborations between the public and private sectors, local communities and international stakeholders.

These partnerships, he said, will enable Jamaica to leverage expertise, resources, and investments to drive innovation and support sustainable development initiatives.

Mr. Bartlett added that future trajectory would support the Government’s aim to break away from traditional tourism approaches and create untapped market spaces, allowing the country to thrive in an era of increased global competition.

“This bold move will generate significant excitement and anticipation within the industry, as experts recognise the potential for Jamaica to become a global leader in sustainable tourism,” he said.

“By implementing eco-friendly practices, protecting natural resources, and supporting local communities, the country can differentiate itself and attract conscious travellers seeking responsible and ethical experiences,” the Minister added.

Forty youth entrepreneurs from across Manchester who have been trained in the principles of effective business operation since April 2023 graduated from the CJSDI Entrepreneurship Training Programme.

The programme’s main aim is to provide the graduates with the skills to transform fledgling businesses into successful entities that meet global standards and give graduates small grant funding to support their entrepreneurial goals.

The training was conducted in partnership with other public agencies, such as the HEART/NSTA Trust, Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) and the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ).

By: , JIS

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Tourism Ministry to Conduct Economic Impact Study on Proposed Hotel Room Developments

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A Tourism Economic Impact Study is to be conducted to identify the economic, fiscal, social and environmental impact of the development of an additional 15,000 to 20,000 hotel rooms to augment Jamaica’s existing stock.

This exercise will be spearheaded by the Ministry of Tourism, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, announced as he closed the 2023/24 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (June 20).

He said the study’s objectives are to identify and evaluate the potential impact of the proposed developments on gross domestic product (GDP); foreign exchange earnings; investment; government revenue and expenditure; income and employment (direct and indirect); and key related sectors such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment.

The study is also intended to identify and evaluate the potential impact of the proposed developments on infrastructure needs; the environment; and individuals (particularly in relation to housing, transport, and recreation); and provide recommendations to mitigate potential negative impacts while capitalising on positive effects, as well as a credible, rigorous evidence base to inform public awareness of the value of the tourism industry to Jamaica.

“This is the most substantial increase in room stock over the shortest period of time in Jamaica’s history. It represents a uniquely transformative moment. We must seize the moment to obtain the maximum social and economic benefit,” Mr. Bartlett said.

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