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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica, May 18, 2015: Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, is pressing for a regional approach to growing the Caribbean tourism market.
“Our regional governments must continue to work together to strengthen our ties with meaningful cooperation as we build a strong, multi-destination industry,” said Minister McNeill ahead of going to Haiti on Tuesday (May 19) to participate in the International Seminar on Multidestination Opportunities for Regional Integration with fellow regional Ministers of Tourism, which is being jointly organized by the Haitian Government and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Addressing a regional gathering of more than 600 Rotarians at the Rotary District 7020 Banquet at the Half Moon Resort Saturday night, Minister McNeill noted that he anticipated a high level of collaboration and the sharing of ideas at the Haiti consultation. “It is crucial that we hold our own in a global industry that necessitates that we keep at the top of our game,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister McNeill continues to be upbeat on growth prospects for the local tourist industry. "Our industry has been an important part of our economy for many years. As a matter of fact, our marketing arm, the Jamaica Tourist Board, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and we are proud of the work that it has done for Jamaica,” he told Rotarians as he underscored the importance of the industry to the country’s socio-economic development.
With the industry topping the two million mark in visitor stopovers in the last two consecutive years, Minister McNeill said he expects the trend to continue. “Tourism is performing well and we are seeing a resurgence of investment in the country. Plans are well advanced for the construction of over 3000 new rooms,” he said.
Minister McNeill stressed, however, that “just bringing investments to Jamaica is not what tourism does; what makes tourism important in Jamaica is the impact that it has on the socio-economic life of every single Jamaican.” Consequently, while seeking to bring more visitors to the country, “we are also trying to increase the impact that tourism has on Jamaica,” he said.
Turning to the Rotarians, Minister McNeill welcomed their choice of Jamaica for their 41st annual District Conference to train leaders in Rotary International District 7020. The five-day conference ended with Saturday’s night’s banquet. He said Jamaica was fortunate to be able to attract so many people from so many countries across the region for this prestigious event.
Minister McNeill described the service organization as one of the world’s most respected and effective volunteer groups. As the push to grow the tourism sector continues, he underscored the need for all parties, government, private sector, NGOs and organisations such as Rotary, to be engaged, adding, “You can readily understand why the work of Rotary is so important to us. Your high standards of community building and creative programmes support these aspects of the tourism industry. We warmly welcome the work you do in our communities across this entire region of which we are all a part and where tourism is so important.”