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Jamaica’s Tourism Industry Rebounds, Growing To Catch Pre- Pandemic Level

Minister Edmund Bartlett makes a point during his address to Parliament on April 5, 2022, during his Sectoral Debate.


April 8, 2022 | By Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie |

The Tourism Minister, Honourable Edmund Bartlett, CD, MP has described in most graphic fashion the growth and development of the Tourism Product now that the pandemic has been abating.

Global Perspective

Minister Bartlett in his own words:

“Madam Speaker, I am happy to share that the global tourism Industry has been reporting figures that indicate that we are well on the road to recovery from the impact of the pandemic.”

The Tourism Minister continued:

“According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO),  global tourism experienced a 4 percent upturn in 2021, compared to 2020 (415 million versus 400 million). However, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) were still 72 percent below the pre-pandemic year of 2019, according to Preliminary data.”

The Tourism Minister points to recovery:

“In fact, figures in the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) 2021 Economic Impact Report show that in 2020, 62 million jobs were lost leaving 272 million employed across the sector globally. This 185 percent decrease was felt across the entire travel and tourism ecosystem, with Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), which make up 80 percent of all global businesses in the sector, being particularly affected. However, research shows that if international mobility and travel are resumed by June this year the 62 million jobs lost in 2020 could return before the end of 2022 therefore, powering global economic recovery.”

Regional Perspective

“Madam Speaker, while the global economy is expected to experience a 30.7 percent year over year increase from travel and tourism in 2021, representing US $1.4 trillion and primarily driven by domestic spending, the Caribbean region is expected to see a 47.3 percent year- over-year increase. This represents nearly US $12 billion, driven by both on international and domestic travel spend, before the end of 2022, according to the WWTC.”

“Madam Speaker, if we maintain our vaccination push, work together to contain the virus, and use a coordinated approach to market our destinations as safe seamless, and secure, we can achieve a true rebound to pre-Covid 19 levels.”

Local Perspective

The Tourism Minister then turned his attention to the local situation. As you are aware there may be various factors that impact the tourism Product. For example: rate of vaccination, rate of crime, travel advisories, ground transportation are a few of the factors that may be impacting the product. The Tourism Minister further said:

“Like Tourism economies globally, the pandemic and related containment measures hit Jamaica hard, resulting in staggering loss of jobs, business and earnings in tourism.”

In 2020, Jamaica’s economy declined by 10.2 percent and the hotels and restaurants industry declined by 53.5 percent. Tourism ended the year with an estimated loss of US $2.3 billion. In 2021, although the fall out was not as great, the estimated tourism losses were a staggering US$1.6 billion.

As Jamaica’s tourism industry continues to grow, 2022 is proving to be equally promising. Year to date, we have seen some 450, 000 stopover visitors with weekend after weekend of record arrivals. This should see us closing out the year with 650, 000 stopover arrivals and earnings of US$2 billion. We are expecting to close 2022 with a visitor arrivals of 3.2 million with cruise passengers accounting for 1.1 million and stopover arrivals accounting for 21 million, for total revenue of US$3.3 billion.”

More Rooms

Plans are afoot for some 8000 new rooms to be built during fiscal year 2021/2022 and beyond. This shows that there is much interest and Jamaica remains an attractive investment destination. The future looks bright for Jamaica’s Tourism future.

Commentary

The future looks great for the Tourism Product. This shows the resilience of the tourism Industry and our local situation has proven this to be so. The Tourism Minister Hon. Edmund Bartlett and his team must be commended for their efforts.

Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is a poet, elegist, author, and senior international journalist who writes for Vision newspaper Canada.

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