64 Knutsford Boulevard, Kingston 5, Jamaica
: (876) 920-4926-30 | : info@mot.gov.jm

You are here

Current Tourism Focus

As a tourist destination, Jamaica has many endearing attributes including its natural beauty, rich culture, strategic location in close proximity to major markets, product diversity and excellent infrastructure. Through a vibrant marketing programme highlighting these characteristics, the local tourism industry performed outstandingly in terms of visitor arrivals during the year 2006-2007 and projections are for continued growth in succeeding years.

The Ministry of Tourism believes that the industry's vast potential for further growth lies in placing greater emphasis on product diversification. In keeping with this thrust, bold targets have been set for growth in the tourism industry over the next three years. Projections are for an increase in cruise visitor arrivals to two (2) million by the end of 2008; an increase in stopover visitors to three (3) million by 2010 and per capita increase in cruise passenger spend from US$83 to US$150 in three years.
Key aspects of product development

Critical to the expansion in Jamaica's share of the regional tourism market is continued investment in key aspects of the tourism product, including:


Jamaica currently boasts one of the most diverse visitor accommodation sub-sectors in the Caribbean.Jamaica currently boasts one of the most diverse visitor accommodation sub-sectors in the Caribbean, including world-famous all-inclusive resorts, upscale hotels and villas, and a range of other distinctive tourist accommodations. However, the projected growth in the tourism industry demands significant expansion in hotel room stock as well as upgrading of infrastructure.

New Accommodation

Since 2002, the island's inventory of hotel rooms has increased to over 24,000 with the addition of over 2,000 new rooms. Continued construction of new hotels through foreign direct investment will contribute to a further increase of 7,000 rooms over the next five years.

Airport Expansion

Currently, the island's two (2) international airports - Sangster International Airport and Norman Manley International Airport, are undergoing major expansion works under the Capital Development Programme. Work is being carried out in phases and will cost over US$130 million.

New Airline Services

During the past five (5) years a number of new airlines and charters have started operating in Jamaica. This has led to the opening up of new routes and new markets especially out of the United Kingdom, Latin and North America.


The Government of Jamaica believes that the future of the industry is directly related to harnessing and developing the country's natural environment, its dynamic culture and heritage. The policy is to develop these resources and package and promote them in a manner that maximizes their inherent economic potential while maintaining their integrity.

The areas of focus include attraction development, heritage tourism and community tourism.

Attraction Development

Since 2003, forty-four (44) attractions have received incentives with capital investment totaling JA$1.6 billion.Since 2003, forty-four (44) attractions have received incentives with capital investment totaling JA$1.6 billion. Twenty-four (24) newly built facilities and twenty (20) existing ones benefited from this investment. This sub-sector employs over 1,400 persons.

Development of attractions has taken place island-wide – in Ocho Rios, Negril, Montego Bay, Port Antonio and on the South Coast. The attractions such as rhino safari, dolphin safari, water park, water based activities, soft and hard adventure and nature based activities, reggae museum, zoo and canopy tour have become extremely popular.

Attraction Incentives

On April 7, 2003, Cabinet granted approval for incentives to be made available to the attraction sub-sector. Incentives can be accessed for the establishment, refurbishment, conservation, reconstruction, and repositioning of attractions in the market place to stimulate growth in the sub-sector.

The sub-sector can now import specific items free of GCT and Custom Duty up to a maximum of five years, and benefit from Corporate Tax exemption if required and approved for the same period.

Heritage Tourism

The Ministry of Tourism has pledged to promote heritage tourism in keeping with its policy on development of heritage sites and the marketing of Jamaica's rich cultural traditions. This is key to sustainable development and product differentiation within the Caribbean tourism market.

The development of heritage assets will reflect the history and culture of Jamaica in the local tourism product and showcase the country's natural beauty. It will also serve to educate and inform Jamaicans and reinforce the pride they have in their heritage.

A combination of the protection and conservation skills of the heritage agencies and the product development and marketing skills of the tourism agencies is ideal for the development of heritage tourism. The aim is to create a balance between the development and marketing of attractions and the built environment.

Jamaica has put in place comprehensive policies for the protection, conservation and development of its natural, cultural and built heritage through a series of laws and the creation of a network of government agencies. These will help to guide the development and marketing of heritage tourism as an integral part of the local tourism product.

Heritage Sites

Spanish Town (Jamaica's former capital), Falmouth, Titchfield Peninsula, Black River and Port Royal have been designated historic districts by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust. These districts are important historical units, which feature buildings of significant architectural value. Other significant landmarks include the world renowned Devon House and Rose Hall Great House, the Giddy House in Port Royal, centuries-old churches and forts used to defend the island while under British rule.

Tourism-Agriculture Linkages

The relationships between tourism and agriculture can be important and far-reaching for local communities. It assists in rural development by providing farmers with an alternative source of income, and by educating farmers in the non-agricultural economy.

Market for Agricultural Produce

The accommodation sector is the main user of agricultural inputs, with hotels purchasing a significant amount of local produce. The main method of procurement is through large distributors or small contractors who in turn source agricultural produce from farmers. Stakeholders in the sector include the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Rural Agriculture Development Agency (RADA), the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), the Jamaica Livestock Association, the Association of Jamaica Attractions Limited (AJAL), TPDCo, the JHTA, hoteliers and farmers, among others.


There is increased recognition of further linkages between these two sectors through the promotion of agri-tourism. This would involve food, lodging, fee fishing, skeet shooting, crop art, processing demonstrations, horseback riding, and activities for people who want to experience farm life and nostalgia, among other things. Already, operations like Walkerswood and the Appleton Estate Tour indicate the positives of such a venture.

In general, agri-tourism is the practice of attracting travelers or visitors to an area used primarily for agricultural purposes. It is a commercial enterprise at a working agricultural facility conducted for the enjoyment of visitors while generating income for the owner. At present it is small-scale, low-impact, and in most cases, education-focused.

Market potential

Jamaica is positioned to take advantage of this growing industry due to its environment, geography, culture and heritage. The government recognizes that this has tremendous economic potential to increase employment, improve domestic food supply, create a strategic position for agriculture and tourism in national development planning, and reduce the country's growing imported food bill and foreign exchange outflows. Agri-tourism represents an opportunity for generating income for many farmers and communities.


Wellness Tourism

Wellness Tourism is a growing global phenomenon, which developed over the past five years. It emerged from the demand for alternative tourism offerings and an increasing trend towards the inclusion of holistic experiences in tourism.

Jamaica's tropical climate and geography, as well as special geophysical features such as mineral springs and hot springs, make it an ideal destination for wellness tourism. The local sub-sector includes day spas, mineral spas and spa hotels. Spa treatment is the leading service facilitating the growth of the wellness tourism sub-sector, both locally and internationally.
Agencies' role in wellness tourism

Bath Fountain Hotel and Spa in St. Thomas and the Milk River Hotel and Spa in Clarendon (agencies of the Ministry of Tourism) will play a significant role in the development of wellness tourism in Jamaica. Currently, these spas are highly utilized by Jamaicans and are known internationally for their curative properties.
Marketing opportunities

Wellness tourism presents opportunities for marketing spa and beauty treatments, fitness, motivational and spiritual treatment, among other offerings. The target market for these services include a growing number of consumers who wish to have health and wellness services as a part of their destination experience.

Health Tourism

Health tourism is a high foreign exchange earner in countries such as India, which provides medical treatment to hundreds of visitors annually. Growth in this sector is propelled by the affordable cost, high level of medical expertise and the use of modern facilities.

With state-of-the-art infrastructure and current medical personnel, Jamaica can be positioned successfully as a health tourism destination. The island's location in close proximity to North America, frequent flights to and from the continent and comparatively lower cost of medical care will all augur well for the expansion of the present service.

Government's pledge

In keeping with the objective to diversify the tourism industry, the Government of Jamaica has pledged to attract healthcare entrepreneurs to establish medical facilities offering clinical and surgical procedures to foreign patients.


Community tourism embraces many aspects of the tourism product including agro, heritage and eco tourism. It is one way in which local people can contribute more fully to the tourism product and gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy our natural resources, develop authentic relationships with the local people and gain a greater appreciation of the island.

Community tourism offers an interesting combination of natural and cultural experiences. It promotes memorable experiences such as hiking up the Blue Mountain for a breath-taking view of the island, exploration of the Green Grotto Caves, taking a trip to a hidden waterfall nestled at the end of a track through a working plantation; sampling Boston jerk pork and purchasing customized craft items. Community tourism introduces visitors to the heart of Jamaican culture and heritage, which is not found in all-inclusive hotels.

Community tourism helps to foster entrepreneurship, and in so doing, it instills a greater desire among service providers to preserve the eco system, prevent degradation of the environment, maintain high product quality, ensure that safety standards are met, and provide an experience that stimulates repeat business.

A major focus of community tourism is:

Craft Production

The structure of the craft sub-sector in Jamaica is largely informal.The structure of the craft sub-sector in Jamaica is largely informal. The Ministry of Tourism guides the overall policy direction of the sector, while TPDCo provides product development services, marketing and promotional development, training, and monitoring of the sector. The Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC) also plays an important role. Through its Things Jamaican brand, the JBDC facilitates branding, distribution, market segmentation services, and market opportunities for craft products. Other stakeholders include the various market/craft associations, the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) and other parish councils, with linkage sectors including hotels and other visitor accommodations, transportation and attractions.

The domestic craft industry includes products made from homegrown raw materials such as beads, shells, wood and other natural products, as well as imported products. Products include wooden statuettes, basketry and weaving, embroidery and sewn products, beaded, metallic and wooden jewelry and paintings. Craft vending is done in craft markets in the resort areas, at the cruise piers or in all-inclusive hotels. Craft items are also sold in the duty-free shops and commercial shopping centres.

Strategies for Development

Strategies for the development of this sub-sector include improved maintenance and infrastructure development, strengthening of licensing and monitoring capacities to guide product quality and development, intensifying and implementing continuous training and retraining programmes and exercises, and implementing a clear and effective sector-wide marketing and sales strategy to ensure growth and sustainability.

Community-based Tourism

At the heart of Jamaica’s buoyant tourism industry lies the community, where the root of our culture, heritage, cuisine and lifestyle flourish. Community Based Tourism offers visitors an authentic Jamaican experience where they see, hear, taste all things Jamaican, and feel the warm hospitality of our people. Simply put – it offers visitors a “home away from home” the Jamaican way.

Community Based tourism impacts the people in two primary ways:

  1. It empowers them to be more aware of the value of their community assets – their culture, heritage, cuisine and lifestyle
  2. It mobilizes them to convert these indigenous assets into income generating projects while offering a more diverse and worthwhile experience to visitors. Every citizen is a potential business partner to be trained in small business management, environmental awareness, product development and marketing. This type of ‘people-centred’ tourism promotes a sense of ‘ownership’ which augurs well for the industry’s sustainability.

Cultural/Heritage Tourism

Our rich heritage and vibrant culture have contributed greatly to the uniqueness of Jamaica’s tourism. This has proved intriguing to many guests, especially for those from the United States where visiting historic sites and museums is the third most popular vacation activity behind shopping and outdoor activities.

Several communities have been realizing the added value of putting their culture and talents on show for visitors curious about culture, stepping beyond the sun, sea and sand tradition for a ‘real’ taste of their host destination.


There is lots of adventure to be had in Jamaica! From exciting hikes through mysterious landscapes, heart-stopping dives into dark caves and deep waters, to a thrilling dash on a zip line through dense tropical forests. There is no end to the excitement and thrill of Jamaica.


Some of the best beaches to be found anywhere in the world are right here on this “rock.” Imagine feeling grains of white sand tickling the grooves of your tired feet while the mesmerising azure of the turquoise tropical waters beckons. What better way to soak up the tropical goodness of our blessed island than through the beaches, from intimate coves between cliffs to bustling miles of sand and crystal blue sea.


Awake your taste buds with the spicy goodness of Jamaica’s delectable cuisine. Spice up your holiday on a roadside tour of Jamaica - sample curried goat in Spur Tree in Manchester, jerk chicken and pork at jerk centres in Boston Bay and Blueberry Hill in Portland, or peppered shrimp in the Middle Quarters, St. Elizabeth.

Like Reggae music Jamaica’s Jerk is world renowned. Jamaica gave the world Jerk cuisine and since then it has become a culinary phenomenon which has found its way onto the menus of many a restaurant worldwide.  Visitors the world over have been drawn to our island to sample this uniquely delicious style and flavour of cooking which is believed to have originated with the Maroons, former slaves.

Feast on the sweetness of our sun-ripen fruits and vegetables that have been nurtured to perfection by nature. While on your culinary journey trying our tasty patties made with fillings of seasoned beef, chicken, shrimp or lobster – the best you will ever taste anywhere in the world. You will be delighted to know that we also create an appealing and unique array of pastries such as coconut drops made from fresh coconut flesh, sugar, ginger and spices, and grater cakes made from grated coconut flesh, sugar and colouring, to name a few.


The tourism and hospitality industry continues its rapid local and global expansion and with it the need to respond to issues of institutional development, human resource and capacity building, and training. Presently, tourism and hospitality training is provided by a number of local players, including the Heart Trust/NTA, The University of the West Indies, Western Hospitality Institute, TPDCo through Team Jamaica, and the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JDBC) among others.

Ministry's Vision

Recognizing the importance of having a skilled and knowledgeable workforce towards the sustainable growth of the tourism sector and the economy, the Ministry of Tourism, as a matter of policy, has prioritized human capacity building as part of its vision. This vision seeks to add value to the sector through human resource development as a strategy for maintaining Jamaica's competitive and comparative advantage in the tourism marketplace, while contributing to overall human development and labour standards in the increasing global knowledge economy.
Hospitality College

To this end, the establishment of a Hospitality College is being proposed to increase the supply of quality staff to the tourism industry. Viewing a demand of over 15,000 new jobs for the industry within the next five (5) years, the expectation within the next 24 months is to have an increase in the industry's trained workforce from its current levels of 53% to 70%. The new tourism and hospitality training facility will provide national skills standards training assistance to hospitality, tourism and related industries in Jamaica, and the region by extension. It will seek to add value to existing programmes on offer, within the framework of a collaborative skills training and assessment policy.

Investment Opportunities

The growing world demand for travel, especially in the emerging markets, and Jamaica's advantageous position as a travel destination, mean that there are growing opportunities for investment in areas of the tourism sector including:

  • Accommodations
  • Attractions
  • Ground Transportation
  • Tours
  • Travel agencies
  • Shopping facilities
  • Tourist services
  • Hotel supplies

The Ministry of Tourism works closely with Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI/JAMPRO) in the promotion and facilitation of investments in the tourism sector.

Government Incentives

Jamaica subscribes to a liberal trade regime, which together with the generous fiscal and market incentives available, has proven attractive to investors. The Government of Jamaica provides a number of services and facilities which aid in tourism development opportunities. These include marketing and promotion, incentives (for accommodations, attractions and transportation), licensing/regulation of in-bond shops, training, facilitating financing (through the Ex-Im Bank, Development Bank of Jamaica, Tourism Enhancement Fund) and infrastructure upgrading and improvement.