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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica; September 29, 2020: The Ministry of Tourism will be taking strategic steps to facilitate the development of tourism in St. Thomas and the expansion of the sector along the South Coast and in other parts of the country that have untapped tourism potential.
This was revealed by Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett as he addressed the Tourism Awareness Week 2020 Thanksgiving Church Service, on World Tourism Day (September 27). He said: “We will continue to build out a framework of support that will include product development, training, infrastructural improvement and access to financing for rural communities.”
With more major projects set to come on-stream, Minister Bartlett said: “We are committed to adding depth and diversity to our tourism product while providing economic viability in communities beyond Jamaica’s traditional resort areas. This will lay the foundation for a more equitable, sustainable and inclusive tourism sector that benefits all Jamaicans.”
The service, hosted by Trumpet Call Ministries International in Montego Bay, was one of several activities by the Ministry, as it joined the global community and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in observing World Tourism Day and to kick-start the local Tourism Awareness Week (TAW) activities.
Other activities for the week include: Daily advertorials highlighting rural development initiatives of the Ministry of Tourism and its agencies, a virtual expo, a virtual webinar, social media competitions, and a youth photography competition.
Minister Bartlett said this year’s World Tourism Day theme: “Tourism and Rural Development” highlighted the unique role that tourism plays in providing opportunities outside of big cities and preserving cultural and natural heritage all around the world. The theme is guiding local activities from September 27 – October 3 to raise awareness of tourism’s significant contribution to the island’s wide-scale growth and development.”
Minister Bartlett has expressed confidence that the industry will help to foster the country’s economic rebound. He said: “Tourism is the heartbeat of our economy and will serve as the catalyst of Jamaica’s Post-COVID-19 economic recovery.”
The Minister added that “as we re-imagine our tourism product in these uncertain times, the focus on rural development seems quite timely. Tourism in rural areas will provide key opportunities for recovery, as these communities seek to bounce back from the harsh economic setback caused by the pandemic.”
The week of activities is being supported by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and newly-elected president, Clifton Reader expressed assurance that “COVID has dealt us a severe blow but we will rise again.”
Mr. Reader commended the tourism sector’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and said he had “never seen the industry so united and we must keep it that way.” He also said he had spoken with the president of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) and there was a commitment, through linkages, to connect all small communities catering to tourism.
In emphasizing the importance of leveraging the link between tourism and the agriculture sector Mr. Reader said “I am working with some of the culinary organizations to further development from farm to table, because the farmers need to know where their products end up finally and the quality they should produce at.”