Gains for Jamaica at trade fair in Spain
Jamaica’s presence at the recently concluded international trade fair in Spain has reaped tremendous benefits for the island’s recovering tourism sector, says Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett.
In an interview, Bartlett said the visit by a high-powered Jamaican delegation, which included Director of Tourism, Donovan White and Chief Strategist and Senior Adviser in the Ministry of Tourism, Delano Seiveright, sealed a major partnership in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC) and international payment processing giants Mastercard.
The visit also resulted in commitments from international investors, all wanting to do business in Jamaica.
“Our team had a series of meetings with tourism investors and the news could not have been better. The Jamaican brand was on full display and attracted a lot of interest,” Mr. Bartlett said.
“Coming out of those talks is the commitment for 9,000 new rooms and also plans for 2,000 rooms for tourism workers. Because of the expected boom throughout the sector, it’s natural that persons will be flocking to the tourist areas seeking jobs… and this is where housing becomes very important,” he added.
Bartlett, who also had meetings with the Piniero family, owners of the Bahai Principe Grand (Jamaica’s largest hotel, located in Discovery Bay, St. Ann), as well as the Tourism Ministers from Mexico and the Dominican Republic, said optimism remains high among tourism stakeholders and sector players.
He added that it has been a while since he has seen this level of enthusiasm, “where everyone is in sync and excited about the recovery from the COVID-19 onslaught”.
The Piniero family also owns 27 hotels worldwide, including in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, and there have been advanced discussions regarding multi-destination arrangements post-COVID.
Bartlett said that at the forefront of all the discussions was the need for full protection of Jamaican workers and chances for upward mobility in the workplace.
“We discussed at length, pension, training and more opportunities for Jamaican skilled workers and the fact that we have to become more inclusive as our recovery becomes stronger and that we are leaving no one behind,” he noted.
“There was also the commitment for investments in agriculture and fisheries as well as manufacturing and tourism supplies,” the Minister said.
The International Tourism Trade Fair, better known as FITUR, took place in Madrid between January 18 and 22. It is also the largest tourism trade fair in the world and brings together stakeholders and business interests from all over the world.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought to the fore the importance of public and private partnerships. It is through these partnerships that Jamaica was able to reopen its borders soon after the pandemic hit,” the Minister said.
He noted that FITUR not only brought together some of the most powerful tourism entities in the world but also proved that Jamaica remains a first-call destination with the potential to be a global powerhouse, which ranks “right up there with the best of them”.
“These are very exciting times for tourism, and Jamaica remains at the front and centre of everything,” Mr Bartlett said.
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