Economic impact of tourism surpassed most other sectors - Bartlett
File photo of Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett entering Gordon House.
Speaking on Tuesday afternoon in Parliament at his Sectorial Presentation on Tourism, Minister Edmund Bartlett declared that growth in the sector continues to exceed set targets.
Indeed, for the second consecutive year, the growth of the tourism sector in Jamaica exceeded the projected five per cent annual growth.
“Last year Mr Speaker we brought in 4.3 million visitors to our shores. It was the first time in the country’s history that we welcomed more than 500,000 new visitors in a calendar year which completely outpaced the combined aggregate growth under the roughly four years of the previous administration.
“Mr Speaker tourism arrivals in 2017 represented a 12.1 per cent increase in arrivals over 2016. This figure comprised 2.35 million stopover arrivals and 1.95 million cruise passengers. Revenue grew from US$2.5 billion in 2016 to a record revenue flow of approximately US$3 billion," said Bartlett.
With crime on the rise in Jamaica and a State of Emergency imposed on sections of the country, the tourism industry has to ensure that Jamaica as a destination remains safe and secure.
To that end, Minister Bartlett announced that through the Tourism Enhancement Fund ( TEF), he has committed over $1 billion to the Ministry of National Security to boost safety and security in Jamaica.
Following a record breaking 2017, Jamaica’s tourism numbers for the first quarter of this year have hit new records. For the period January to March total arrivals of 1.3 million increased by 6.6 per cent with 625,002 stopovers up by 6.8 per cent and 673,672 cruise passengers arrivals up by 6.5 per cent.
This equates to over 80,000 more visitors than the corresponding period last year or 6.6 per cent in percentage terms.
“Mr Speaker, the month of March also recorded a whopping 11.3 per cent in stopover arrivals over the same month last year . Of note also Mr. Speaker is that for the period, gross estimated Foreign Exchange Earnings stood at US$ 825.3 million, representing an increase of 8.5 per cent.
Minister Bartlett has long pointed out that the relationship between tourism and the resilience of the Jamaican economy has been well established.
“The rapidly expanding tourism sector has maintained its position as one of the main contributors to job creation, investments and foreign revenues in the Jamaican economy over the last several decades.
“Expectedly, 2017 marked another exceptional year for tourism as the available data indicate that the total economic impact of the sector surpassed most other segments of the economy, “ said Bartlett.
So what does tourism contribute to the Jamaican economy in dollar terms?
Revenue generated from the tourism sector has to be factored as a component of total recurrent revenue. In 2015 tourism’s contribution to government revenue was 12.8 per cent ( $57.8 billion).
In 2017, direct revenue from tourism generated $62. 2 billion accounting for 12.1 per cent of total recurrent revenue. Minister Bartlett said that this means that direct revenue generated from the tourism sector increased by 7.6 per cent from 2015 to 2017.
Last year, export earnings from the tourism sector accounted for 79.7 per cent (US$2.9 billion) of total export earnings by major sources. This is a jump of 35 per cent from 2015.