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KINGSTON, Jamaica; December 8, 2016: Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett today (December 08, 2016) officially launched five new networks under its overarching Tourism Linkages Network initiative, to better position the sector to generate higher growth rates, in both visitor arrivals and earnings.
The Tourism Linkages Network was first introduced in 2013 with the primary goal of ensuring that tourism would be better integrated with other sectors. The initial focus was strengthening the relationship with the manufacturing and agricultural sectors as well as the creative industries. The Tourism Linkages Network is spearheaded by a Tourism Linkages Council, Chaired by renowned hotelier Mr. Adam Stewart.
The Council has two main groups which directly foster greater synergy between tourism and the productive sectors namely the Agriculture Technical Working Group and the Manufacturing Technical Working Group.
However the tourism linkages initiative has now been expanded to include five new networks: Gastronomy; Sports and Entertainment; Health and Wellness; Shopping; and Knowledge.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett shared that the decision to expand the networks was strategic as they will have a fundamental role to play in helping the tourism sector achieve its growth targets.
“If we intend to attract five million visitors by 2021; generate $5 billion in tourism earnings, increase the total direct jobs to 125,000 and add 15,000 new hotel rooms, then we must put in place the framework to foster the growth of this sector. So, the networks being introduced today will aid in transforming the sector, deepen linkages and achieve significant growth,” said Minister Bartlett.
The Minister also indicated that the timing of the launch was significant, as recently released figures from the Jamaica Tourist Board, indicate that the country’s tourism sector is performing very well.
He revealed that Jamaica has registered growth of over 5% in both tourism earnings and visitor arrivals. Specifically, from January to October 2016, the island registered an increase of 5.2 percent in total visitor arrivals over the same period last year, with 3,101,920 total visitors. For winter 2017, the destination also secured in excess of 4,000 new air seats from the United States over last winter. Over 1,000 new rooms are also expected to be added in 2017.
“There is no doubt that this is a very strong performance for the island’s tourist industry. But, there is still a lot of work to be done. This is why the new networks we have developed are vital,” said Minister Bartlett.
Each network, which is chaired by a member of the Tourism Linkages Council, has already prepared detailed programmes and projects which were specifically chosen to add value to the Jamaican tourism sector, particularly as it relates to increasing visitor arrivals and spend.
Among the proposed plans for the networks are: the creation of a gastronomy mobile application; the development of a top ten events initiative to help drive entertainment locally; the development of nutraceuticals (such as Ball Moss, Ginger and Marijuana); developing a central information repository and an online tourism knowledge portal and identifying areas to be designated as shopping areas.