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KINGSTON, Jamaica: September 3, 2014: Over forty representatives from regional organizations including the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) are currently in Kingston to attend a three-day Regional Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) Workshop to continue the work of advancing the use of TSA systems and improving the quality of tourism statistics in the region.
The TSA workshop got underway today (September 3) at the Courtleigh Hotel, New Kingston, under the theme: “Establishing a Sustainable Synergy Between Technological Best Practices and Tourism Satellite Accounts”. It is being coordinated by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) with the assistance of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), and funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The TSA is a standard framework for organizing statistical data on tourism, and assessing its impact and relationship with other sectors and on a nation’s balance of payments.
In her welcome address, Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, Mrs. Jennifer Griffith, noted that Jamaica has been very supportive and actively involved in the CTO’s Tourism Satellite Accounting projects, including the European Union funded ‘Caribbean Regional Sustainable Tourism Development Programme’ (2003 and 2008), as well as the current IDB funded ‘Regional Tourism Satellite Account Implementation Initiative’. “We therefore welcome this meeting at this particular juncture and the broader initiative to better quantify the contribution of tourism to the wider economy,” said Mrs. Griffith.
“We in the Caribbean, have mostly tourism dependent economies, therefore we share an interest in, and stand to benefit from, any initiative that seeks to strengthen institutional capacity for better assessments of the economic impact of tourism,” said the permanent secretary.She added that, “in this regard, continued efforts aimed at the harmonization and standardization of statistical approaches and methodologies as well as the adoption of electronic tools to enhance the TSA development process represent important strides in the right direction.”
Stressing that a Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment commissioned Tourism Economic Impact Study estimated tourism’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at 7%, Ms Griffith said that Jamaica has benefitted from TSAs and has relied on them in a number of major planning exercises for the tourism industry.
However, while recognizing the value of TSAs in strategic and policy planning, and their ability to contribute to national and regional destination competitiveness, she noted that there are still unresolved challenges that limit their full potential. For example, the TSA can only provide the direct contributions of tourism to GDP and does not address the indirect and induced impacts.
“Collectively we must find a way to tackle these issues. I take the opportunity to encourage you to seek appropriate strategies to address them. Frank discussion on the challenges faced will enable all the governments in our region to more accurately measure the contribution of tourism to our economies,” Ms. Griffith concluded.
In her remarks to workshop participants, Director General of STATIN, Ms. Carol Coy, said Jamaica like a number of other Caribbean countries relies heavily on the tourism industry as a major earner of foreign exchange as well as employment creation. “Statistics on tourism are therefore necessary to assess the industry’s full impact throughout the economy as this will allow for evidenced based policy and decision making,” she said.
The STATIN Director General noted that in the Caribbean most tourism indicators have traditionally been non-monetary; for example, visitor arrivals, bed nights, number of rooms, and occupancy rates. She said, however, that this type of information is not sufficient to develop sound economic analysis of the industry, adding that “reliable tourism statistics and analysis of its economic contribution are therefore critical elements for planning and analysis, and for stakeholders to effectively advocate for the industry given the scarce resources facing our governments.”