Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says that tourism has the potential to accelerate growth and reduce poverty in countries across the globe.
“An expanded tourism sector with a high degree of economic integration can produce positive and spillover effects that can help to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth,” he said.
“It can also help to promote social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction, resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change, cultural values, diversity and heritage, mutual understanding, peace and security,” he added, while participating in a World Tourism Think Tank in Costa Navarino, Greece, recently.
Minister Bartlett pointed out that tourism remains one of Jamaica’s few labour-intensive sectors, directly employing over 106,000 persons, while generating indirect jobs for another 250,000 individuals in linked sectors such as agriculture, the creative and cultural industries, entertainment, manufacturing, transportation, finance and insurance, electricity and water, construction and other services.
“Direct contribution of tourism to our gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated at 8.4 per cent, while total contribution is estimated at a 27.2 per cent of GDP. Tourism is also the single most important generator of foreign exchange for the Jamaican economy,” he noted.
Mr. Bartlett pointed out that the tourism industry in many developing and least developed countries (LDCs) has become the most viable and sustainable option for economic development, and in some countries the main source of foreign exchange earnings.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 2014, LDCs received US$16.4 billion in exports from international tourism, up from US$2.6 billion in 2000, making the sector an important pillar of their economies and helping some to graduate from the LDC status.
Tourism is also labour-intensive and supports a diverse and versatile labour market.
Minister Bartlett argued that development and execution of sustainable growth strategies must incorporate broad-based input from a wide range of stakeholders in order to build consensus.
He noted that visionary leaders in Government, industry and civil society must collaborate in order to create the needed infrastructures to overcome growth and competitiveness barriers.
“We have to be strategic and smart in our approach. The global tourism pie is huge. It has maintained a level of profitability and dependability like no other industry and has been the main breadwinner for many countries. We must continue to build on our collective resources and be cognisant at all times that through partnerships and collaborations; we can all succeed in realising our dreams,” he added.