MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA – Acknowledged as the leader in tourism innovation in the Caribbean, Jamaica is now set to embark on the road to becoming a smart destination.
Speaking at the Smart Destination Workshop 2018 last Friday, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett disclosed that the Ministry had invested J$30 million in the development of the fully integrated website that has been developed in conjunction with Google and will be launched in June.
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“That’s the game-changer that we’ve been looking for to enable a platform in which all players can now come and populate with their content,” said Minister Bartlett.
He was particularly pleased that this would now allow for small vendors, classified as small and medium tourism enterprises, to have access. “The big word for us in smart tourism is access and Jamaica will provide access for visitors from all over the world,” said Minister Bartlett.
Minister Bartlett saw the coming together of public and private sector entities to demonstrate the use of technology in the forward thrust to grow tourism, as “a phenomenal development and it is putting Jamaica at the cutting edge of the new tourism.” He posited that “it is going to enable us to be sustainable in terms of our development process.”
He regarded the workshop as “being central in terms of creating and mapping out this new architecture for tourism” and advocated having this forum more often than once a year.
Mr. Bartlett underlined that “the change that is taking place in tourism today is absolutely mind boggling and destinations are undergoing a level of metamorphosis that is faster than even they can recognize themselves.” He said the change was coming because of “the fourth revolution” which he defined as “the huge influx of cognitive systems that are redefining the way things are done, adding value to innovation.”
Minister Bartlett issued a call “to wake up” and realize that tourism was now a brand new mega global industry with a value of US$8 trillion, representing ten percent of global GDP, second only to the financial services at 19 percent, and employing 400 million people last year. Tourism also accounted for 30 percent of trading services worldwide.
Darragh Fitzgerald Selby, Chairman of the Knowledge Network, one of the five pillars of the Ministry of Tourism’s Linkages Network, said Jamaica was being positioned to be seen as the knowledge centre of the Caribbean.
The stage for the Smart Destination workshop was set last year July when the Ministry of Tourism partnered with Digicel Business to introduce the concept of smart destination stakeholders, continued with a workshop at the Montego Bay Convention Centre looking at implementation of the concept.
In addition to Digicel Business, Smart Destination 2018 is supported by technology giants AVAYA, ARUBA and TREND, as well as Exim Bank and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association.