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  • Master of Ceremonies...
  • Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Mrs. Jennifer Griffith and other Ministry officials
  • Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board, John Lynch 
  • Director of Tourism, Mr. Paul Pennicook
  • President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Mrs. Nicola Madden-Greig,
  • Delegates and tourism partners all
  • Members of the media
  • Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening…


  • It is my sincere pleasure to be here today as we mark the opening of the 2016 staging of the Jamaica Product Exchange, which is being hosted in our tourism Mecca, beautiful Montego Bay.
  • I extend a warm Jamaican welcome to those who have come from overseas; in particular, those who are visiting our lovely island for the very first time.
  • I am confident the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) will ensure you all have a pleasant and productive visit as you do business at this year’s staging of JAPEX.


  • The importance of JAPEX cannot be overemphasized. It is the single most important business to business travel trade show for Jamaica’s tourism industry.
  • This event facilitates the coming together of international travel agents, wholesalers and tour operators as well as leading suppliers in the local tourism sector, which provides a fantastic opportunity to renew relationships and build partnerships that are so important to tourism’s success.
  • We cannot rely solely on destination marketing to build and maintain a strong brand for our destination.  Public private partnerships have a fundamental role to play in the tourism growth agenda and we welcome platforms such as JAPEX, which afford such opportunities and interaction.
  • It is evident that JAPEX provides the kind of access to markets that is essential to Jamaica’s continued growth as a premier tourist destination. 
  • JAPEX has played a significant role in facilitating the growth and development our sector has experienced over the years.  I therefore encourage all participants to make the most of the networking and business opportunities afforded at this event.
  • With the over 232 suppliers and 94 buyers I hope that in short order we will see an increase in business deals coming out of the next two days of pre-arranged meetings and networking.
  • I am pleased to see that our Tourism Linkages Network is well represented as we continue to deepen the linkages between tourism and other key sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture and entertainment.
  • As in the former years, it will be coordinating the participation of local suppliers of goods and services at JAPEX 2016. This year, we will be facilitating the participation of players from the Construction and Entertainment sectors including Developers, Architects, Engineers as well as Entertainment Practitioners.
  • Once again we have a very strong representation of delegates from the USA, Canada, and the UK. But equally important is the fact that we again have a contingent of representatives from non-traditional and new markets, such as Latin America and Eastern Europe.
  • We also have a contingent of some 27 media representatives from the USA, Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. I am certain you will all have an excellent time here.


  • Growth and prosperity are the key objectives of this Administration. One of our main goals is to ensure the sustainable development of our nation and an improved standard of living for every Jamaican.
  • The tourism industry will be instrumental in achieving these targets. It is a sector that has the potential to stimulate wide-scale economic activity, drive new growth in our communities, generate the jobs we need so badly and earn billions of dollars in foreign exchange.  Tourism is therefore ideally positioned to become a powerful catalyst for improving the socio-economic conditions of our people.
  • Our focus is to reposition tourism to generate higher growth rates in both visitor arrivals and earnings as we respond to new demographics, new spending patterns and an industry driven largely by passion points.
  • To accomplish this growth imperative we must ensure that all aspects of the product are right and that we can truly deliver on what we promise when we market Jamaica.
  • This means that we must take the tourism industry to a whole new level.  It requires a strong strategy with bold but achievable goals to grow a vibrant tourism industry which contributes to sustainable economic growth...so that soon Jamaica will be ranked #1 on the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards “World’s Best Islands” list, not only in the Caribbean as we are now.
  • My goal since returning to office has been to identify – through meetings with local and overseas tourism stakeholders – shared priorities that will help move Jamaica’s tourism industry forward and to set in motion the means to accomplish greater growth.
  • Previously, I have spoken of the Five Pillars of Tourism Growth, which my Ministry and our agencies will focus on in our efforts to transform the island’s tourism sector and achieve double digit growth. These include:
    • Tapping into new markets
    • Developing new products
    • Promoting investment
    • Building new partnerships and
    • Developing human capital


  • The sector has been performing creditably. We have done a good job over the years but there is a lot more to be done.
  • In order to attain double digit growth we will be aggressively targeting new markets:
    • The South American market remains a frontier for us to conquer.
    • The Eastern European market essentially also has not come up to the level that we want and represents another frontier.
    • We will be seeking to increase our market share of visitors out of North America.  Visitor arrivals from this market are a little over 1.7 million; I am confident we can attract in excess of two million.
    • Cuba is strategically positioned to help fuel the growth of tourism in the Caribbean which would augur well for us. We are taking proactive steps to leverage our longstanding relationship with Cuba to boost arrivals to Jamaica.
    • We are currently pursuing a multi-destination marketing arrangement with Cuba and the Dominican Republic. I will be travelling to Cuba in May where we plan to concretize the Memorandum of Understanding.
    • We are also in discussions with China with the aim of concretizing another tripartite agreement between China, Jamaica and Cuba. This will help us tap into the Chinese market in a more meaningful way.


  • In order to grow our sector we must constantly consider how we can better meet the needs of the increasingly discerning traveller. 
  • We will be ramping up our efforts to diversify the sector and expand into areas of tourism such as health and wellness, gastronomy and shopping.  This will help to attract more visitors to the island as well as generate additional earnings.


  • The introduction of Timeshare vacations is another way in which we are diversifying our product mix.
  • This is a unique form of tourism which has the potential to create new economic opportunities for Jamaicans while fueling investment and enhancing Jamaica’s international appeal.
  • The Timeshare Vacation Act came into law in December 2014 and I am pleased to announce that the Act will become operational on May 1, 2016.
  • It is designed to achieve two main objectives.
    • Firstly, it will give legal recognition to timeshare vacation schemes in the form of right-to-use agreements, which are timeshare contracts and deeds issued in relation to these agreements.
    • Secondly, it also regulates the marketing, promotion and provision of timeshare accommodation and will entail the establishment of a Timeshare Vacations Registry.
  • Vacation ownership is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the global hospitality industry and there is significant potential for further growth and development of the timeshare product in the Caribbean and especially in Jamaica.
  • Timeshare vacation plans in the United States alone generate $7.9 billion a year in annual sales, according to the American Resort Development Association, or ARDA, which represents many timeshare developments.
  • Timeshare will be regulated locally by the Real Estate Board.
  • The Ministry of Tourism is collaborating with the Real Estate Board, JAMPRO, and other partners to roll out a marketing programme to attract developers and purchasers both locally and overseas. A special committee which includes representatives from the Ministry and these key entities has been driving this process.
  • Members of the committee are currently traveling to the United States to attend the annual ARDA Timeshare Convention, where they will market Jamaica as a Timeshare destination and encourage international players to invest in the sector.
  • I would also like to take this opportunity to urge local interests to examine Timeshare as an area to invest in as the returns can be very lucrative.


  • As a Government we are doing our part to ensure that the infrastructure, policies and legislation required to facilitate growth in the tourism sector are implemented.
  • In addition, we are committed to developing a competitive and productive workforce that can benefit from opportunities in the tourism and hospitality industry. In this regard the Ministry will pursue the development of a Craft Institute and a Hospitality College.
  • This Hospitality College will train persons at all levels of the tourism sector. This way, we can equip more Jamaicans to better benefit from the far-reaching development of the sector.
  • We are currently in discussions with stakeholders as we seek to finalize arrangements to establish this institution.


  • Ladies and gentlemen our tourism sector has significant potential, but it will only thrive if we work as partners in building it.
  • As a Ministry we will place added emphasis on investment, partnerships, and empowering our people to help foster tourism’s growth from the community level in order to build a sustainable industry that makes a positive impact on the lives of every Jamaican.
  • Let me congratulate the JHTA and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) for once again bringing together some of our most important tourism partners for JAPEX 2016.
  • I wish for you all, buyers, sellers and tourism partners, a productive and profitable time with us, and I urge you to take some time out to enjoy our wonderful island and its many breathtaking attractions. 
  • So, with those few words – I now declare JAPEX 2016 officially open.

Thank you.