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  • Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Morning.
  • It is my pleasure to welcome you to the inaugural meeting of the Tourism Competitiveness Task Force.
  • The focus of the Ministry of Tourism and our Agencies is to reposition tourism to generate higher growth rates in both visitor arrivals and earnings.
  • Our targets:
    • Secure 5 million visitors by 2021
    • US$ 5 billion in tourism earnings
    • Increase the total direct jobs to 125,000
    • 15,000 new rooms.
  • If we are to achieve these growth targets, we have to work together with urgency as we take tourism in Jamaica to a whole new level.
  • As competition in tourism intensifies between destinations, we must increase our efforts to position Jamaica as a preferred destination above all others among the millions who travel the world each year.
  • How do we enhance destination Jamaica’s competitive edge? By offering a world class competitive tourism product that ensures the first and last impression our visitors have of Jamaica is a pleasant and memorable one.
  • Competitiveness can only be sustained by the continued improvement of the services, offerings and infrastructure. The Tourism Competitiveness Task Force will therefore have a critical role to play in creating that competitive advantage.
  • I will now introduce the members of the Tourism Competitiveness Task Force:
    • Josef Forstmayr – Chairman
    • Godfrey Dyer – Chairman, Tourism Enhancement Fund
    • Jennifer Griffith – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism
    • Paul Pennicook – Director of Tourism, Jamaica Tourist Board
    • Major General Stewart Saunders – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of National Security
    • Jennifer McDonald – CEO, PICA
    • Audley Deidrick – President, Airports Authority of Jamaica & NMIA
    • Rafael Echevarne – CEO, MBJ Airport Ltd.
    • Major Richard Reese – Commissioner of Customs
    • Omar Robinson – President, Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association
    • A representative from the Ministry of Culture Gender, Entertainment and Sport
  • Responsibilities of  the Task Force will include:
    • Reviewing/modernizing outgoing and incoming immigration processes to facilitate easier passage through our airports by both Jamaicans and visitors;
    • Enhancing the atmosphere and aesthetics of our airports;
    • Examining aviation policy issues/Open Skies;
    • Taxation;
    • Improvement of customer service at our airports;
    • Reviewing and updating of legislation relating to the modernization of immigration processes
    • Advising on policies to improve the competitiveness of the local tourism sector;
    • Eliminating bureaucratic red-tape which affects tourism development; and
    • Collaborating with the relevant Ministries to address visa issues for countries targeted as tourism markets
  • The Ministry of Tourism’s partnership with the Ministry of National Security and other public and private sector partners has been a positive one and led to the establishment of the Enhancing Airport Services Delivery Task force. This has resulted in some far-reaching initiatives and policy changes:
  • Improving the efficiency of the PICA, through training and the use of modern technology.
  • The waiving of visa requirements for nationals of some 30 countries, including Russia, the Czech Republic, Columbia, Panama, Venezuela and China, who are visiting Jamaica for tourism purposes for periods of 30 days or less. This has opened new and emerging tourism markets.
  • The commissioning into service of Automated Immigration Kiosks at our international airports to reduce processing time for passengers.
  • I am challenging this Task Force to continue to build on these achievements to further enhance the industry’s competitiveness.
  • We have here an excellent mix of public and private sector partners and I wish to thank you for volunteering for the task force.
  • With the depth of experience and quality of expertise that we are so fortunate to have on this Task Force I am confident we are well equipped to find solutions to the challenges facing our tourism sector.

Thank you.