64 Knutsford Boulevard, Kingston 5, Jamaica
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Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning. . .
I am delighted to have been invited by the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) to give brief remarks at this important event that brings government and private sector stakeholders together to explore the promising opportunities for CARICOM-Brazil tourism and trade relations.
Brazil's economic future appears to be impressive and Jamaica would be remiss to ignore the opportunities that abound in forging trade and tourism relations with arguably the sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP in the world and seventh-largest by purchasing power parity. As one report puts it, “Brazil's economy marching to samba beat” and Jamaica intends to match each and every step.
Following our establishment of an embassy in Brazil last year, we are moving rapidly to ensure Jamaica is able to capitalise on tourism, trade and investment opportunities, while building cultural ties, and establishing greater links for technical cooperation between both countries.
With a population of over 200 million that recognises Jamaica as a great brand and the spending power of the growing Brazilian middle class, we see very encouraging possibilities for our tourism industry.
We have been enjoying great success in our drive to diversify our source markets. And while we still maintain a clear focus on our traditional markets in the US, Canada and Western Europe, we have successfully tapped into Latin American and the Eastern European markets.
In partnership with Copa Airlines we are experiencing encouraging growth out of Latin America through Copa’s hub in Panama City. Although we do not yet have direct airlift from Brazil we are confident that there is great potential in this visitor market. In fact Copa’s increased service is the only way to explain the 29.7% increase we achieved in Brazilian arrivals between 2011 and 2012.
In addition to doubling Copa flights from four to eight per week we are also undertaking a number of marketing initiatives to take advantage of the possibilities. We have also taken strategic steps to make it easier for persons from these markets to enter Jamaica by relaxing visa restrictions for a number of Latin American and Eastern European countries.
Hence, a major advantage we now have is that persons from Brazil don’t require visas. However to effectively tap into this market we need to establish no-stop service to Jamaica. Copa currently flies to Brazil and the strategy we are pursuing is to secure direct flights from major cities such as Sao Paulo to Montego Bay. This is a very promising market and we are upbeat about the possibilities and will continue in our efforts to effectively develop this market.