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Tourism Service Excellence Awards Ceremony 2018 - Full Speech

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Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Edmund Bartlett; Dr. Carole Guntley, Chair of the Tourism Excellence Awards Committee; Dr. Andrew Spencer, Executive Director Tourism Product Development Company; Mr. Godfrey Dyer, Chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund; Mr Omar Robinson, President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association; specially invited guests, semi-finalists. I am honoured and privileged to have been invited to deliver the keynote address at this prestigious event where we recognize the excellent service of the men, women and organizations dedicated to keeping Jamaica as the number one tourist destination. I want to applaud TPDCo for hosting this event – it is a true reflection of the appreciation for all those who work in the tourism industry.Ladies and gentlemen I want to congratulate Minister Bartlett on his recent award as World Tourism Minister of the year by the prestigious Pacific Area Travel Writers Association (PATWA). This comes on the heels of him being awarded the Caribbean Tourism Minister of the Year award by the Caribbean Journal.

You know the most inspiring leadership is by example and Minister Bartlett’s passionate leadership and dedication to the industry is inspiringI don’t know how many of you are able to keep up with his recent activities as he aggressively pursues the growth strategy for the Tourism industry - it has been reaping success. More recently the Minister was on CNN representing Brand Jamaica and it was an impressive interview. 
One of the nicest complements I have ever heard about our beloved country was from Barrack Obama who said, "It is a great pleasure to visit Jamaica, known for its beauty and the extraordinary spirit of its people”. His sentiment was true then and it is true now.  
We have a lot to celebrate.
Jamaica has Bob Marley and reggae music, Usain Bolt and great food – Brand Jamaica is a gem and the envy of the world.
At the World Travel Awards in 2016 Jamaica won 9 of the coveted awards which included – World’s Leading Wedding Destination; World’s Leading Cruise Destination and World’s Leading Caribbean Attraction Company.
TripAdvisor® ranked Jamaica as the #12 Best Destination in the World in 2017 and one of the top three islands in the world in 2016. I think we can be #1.
 Jamaica welcomed four million passengers in 2017 which represented a record in arrivals.
The visitors spent over US$3 billion in the island or 11.7 per cent higher spend than in 2016, according to Ministry of Tourism estimates.
Jamaica recently gained international recognition as Tourism Location of the Future- by the Financial Times – fDi intelligence magazine.
We have investments of over USD 1 billion with over 16 live projects from Negril to Montego Bay to Trelawny to Ocho Rios to Port Antonio and to Kingston.
Ladies and gentlemen I believe the best is yet to come.
Vision 2030 - is the 'roadmap' for making "Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business”.
Jamaica’s Vision 2030 includes a long term strategic plan for the tourism industry. It forecasts an inclusive, world-class, distinctly Jamaican experience.  An industry that will share the opportunities and wealth created among more Jamaicans, so that more people will benefit. Tourism will become a major contributor to socio-economic and cultural development, with a well-educated, highly skilled and motivated workforce at all levels within a safe, secure and sustainably managed environment. 
The Ministry of Tourism in support of the Government’s strategic priority of economic growth and job creation is pursuing a 5 in 5 in 5 growth strategy. The strategy targets a 5% increase in visitor arrivals annually and US$5 billion in foreign exchange earnings within a five-year period.
These are ambitious goals and as a businessman it is music to my ears. To run a successful company, “what gets measured, gets done” and so I would like to therefore suggest if it’s not being done already that a comprehensive strategic and operating plan be developed where the 5 years are broken down to annual targets with clear deliverables and who is accountable to ensure the targets are delivered. I understand that some of these deliverables will be cross ministerial and this is why it is important to get the full support on the initiative and to have measurable targets and accountability.
If we achieve the 5x5x5 initiative we will go a far way in realizing Vision 2030.  
I feel very strongly that the success of the government’s stated objectives of a 5% in 4 years growth strategy heavily depends on the success of the tourism industry. We must never take anything for granted. It is my opinion that tourism in Jamaica in spite of all its successes still has a wealth of untapped potential for future growth and game changing results. We have to treat it as the precious gem that it is – care it -protect it – cherish it - so it can achieve its full potential.
To put it into context the direct contribution to GDP was reported at JMD 162.6 billion or 9.3% of total GDP and was forecast to rise by 4.6% in 2017. It was calculated to increase at a rate of 5.0% per annum over the period 2017- 2027[1]
There is a lot to be said, however I want to focus on 2 important areas
i) encouraging small businesses to participate in the industry (which develops and strengthens linkages – spreads the wealth) and ii) the welfare of the men and women employed in the industry.
1-1. encouraging small business participation & linkages
Innovation is key to the success of the tourism industry in Jamaica. An attitude of enterprise and innovation at all levels must be embraced if the tourism industry in Jamaica is to be used as a catalyst for economic regeneration and development.
This is why I support initiatives that foster partnerships – which provide access to local products, builds capacity, and supports the development of supply chains.
This is what Sandals did when it started a $25 million programme with potato farmers; it has seized a win-win opportunity to partner with the farmers to reduce the hotels import bill and in return create direct added revenue and a market for the farming communities. This programme is in keeping with the Vision 2030 thrust to reduce the import bill and to share the wealth/ earnings with other sectors. 
The current business climate is good for small businesses to expand in the Tourism industry. There are multiple opportunities for all to access: 
The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has committed a  $1-billion loan facility to assist small and medium-sized tourism enterprises to upgrade their properties and attractions;  access to EXIM Bank for loans between $5 and $25 million at an interest rate of 5% and is geared toward the small and medium enterprises; The “Christmas in July” exhibition – a collaborative effort with the JMA, JHTA, JBDC and JAMPRO. This is an opportunity for local producers to i) showcase their authentic Jamaican gift and souvenir items and ii) to network with various corporate entities and industry stakeholders. The desired outcome is to boost the purchase and use of more local goods and services
Tourism Linkages Speed Networking Event –my understanding is that this is already showing excellent results in the increased consumption of local goods and services with corresponding job creation involving more Jamaicans in the tourism value chain.
Establishing strong sustainable linkages and the creation of market opportunities is important to drive growth in the sector and the economy. Because any growth in the sector will impact other areas of national development (such as the creative industry, agriculture, construction, manufacturing, sports, and entertainment) and will stimulate the local consumption of goods and services.   
2- welfare of the employees
Tourism directly employs over 106,000 Jamaicans, while generating indirect jobs for another 250,000 Jamaicans (or one in every four Jamaicans) in linked sectors.
I have said it before and I will say it again - the most valuable asset a company has is its people. Not inventory; not cash; not receivables. The tourism industry’s most valuable assets are the men and women who every single day that they are on the job give stellar service. 
These individuals are dedicated to providing world class service which keeps Jamaica’s name first and foremost in the minds of millions as one of the world’s best tourist destinations. They reinforce our nation’s reputation each time they interact with visitors. 
We must protect and enrich our people and I strongly support the policies aimed at addressing the welfare of the industry’s employees. 
Colleagues, I listened to the Minister’s sectoral presentation in Parliament last year - where he spoke about housing for employees in the tourism industry and that a survey was done and report prepared – I have not seen the report but I understand that an estimated 85% of the 847 responses indicated they did not own a house. Jamaicans dream of two things – i) giving their children a good education and ii) owning their own home. 
I think that as a country we need to prioritize – to develop a housing solution for the men and women who work in the industry to be able to access affordable housing whether through an NHT initiative or a private initiative –this should be the number one priority.
I understand that the Cabinet has given approval for the drafting of Tourism Employees Pension Act. Establishing the pension fund is an excellent idea and great way to build and add value to our human resource capital and the legislation is timely. 
Minister I implore you to fast track these initiatives so they become fully operational realities. I think that this would be by far the best way to show appreciation to all the professionals who work in the industry and would be a fulfilment of the vision to share wealth and benefits of the growing sector.
The tourism sector is expanding. Any growth in the industry will see an increase in job creation and economic growth. This improves the climate for further investment.
We need to continue on the path of establishing linkages to spread/share the benefits. I want to encourage small and medium sized businesses to support the industry because it will benefit commerce for all.

Let us continue to value our assets – reward our employees, protect them. Preserve our natural resources not just for the sake of tourism but for our health, well-being and enjoyment and for the generations to come.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we need to change how we think –we need to visualize opportunities - generate new ideas – embark on new initiatives. We are moving forward energetically let’s speak more about the positives of our country and what we can do to build our nation. That’s what makes tonight so special --IT is positive!

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Tourism Minister to Garner Support for Global Disaster Resilience Centre in South America

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KINGSTON, Jamaica; April 11, 2018: Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett leaves the island today to attend a series of meetings in South America. While there, he is expected to make a presentation on the Global Disaster Resilience Centre that is to be established in Jamaica, as well as garner more support for Small and Medium Sized Tourism Enterprises.

The centre, which was first announced at the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) global conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism held in Montego Bay last November, will be located at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

It is being designed to help vulnerable states to recover quickly from natural disasters and is currently endorsed by World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.

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Tourism Commissioner Tells Partners USVI Open for Business

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Photo Credit: (From left) JetBlue Airways' Jack Massey and Dylan Kleopfer, Virgin Islands Port Authority Executive Director David Mapp, Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty and JetBlue's Eric Tanner in New York this week.

Commissioner Nicholson-Doty meets with media and airline representatives in Atlanta, Chicago and New York

NEW YORK (April 14, 2018) - U.S. Virgin Islands Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty continues to make audiences across the U.S. mainland and the globe aware that the Territory is open for business.

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U.S. Tourism Office Has Put Out Inaccurate International Visitor Data For Years

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Source: https://skift.com 

So new questions are being raised about the so-called Trump Slump, the decline of foreign visitors to the United States since the president came into office. As Skift's Dan Peltier reported on Monday, the Commerce Department has suspended releasing data for now because it believes its numbers showing such a decline may be inaccurate.

But now Skift has learned this may not be some short-lived statistical glitch, but a more systemic problem.If true (and who knows what passes for truth in Washington these days) Commerce has a much larger problem on its hands that will have huge implications for the travel industry, in the U.S. and abroad. Companies rely on that information to be accurate to make business plans and projections, launch marketing campaigns, and communicate with shareholders.

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Airbnb is rolling out a new tier aimed at higher-end travelers

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Airbnb today is rolling out a few new additions to their home-booking system, including new tiers that are aimed at higher-end customers, called Airbnb Plus and Beyond by Airbnb.

The new Airbnb Plus tier has homes that are verified for “quality and comfort,” rolling out with around 2,000 homes to start that have been inspected against a thorough checklist. The luxury tier, called Beyond by Airbnb, is built around whole trips including hospitality, custom experience and — of course — higher-end homes. Each appears to be targeting verticals within the travel space that make sense based on the typical hospitality industry, but weren’t specifically singled out on Airbnb.

Rather than just searching for a home on Airbnb and flipping through the photos or reviews, the new tiers may offer customers willing to spend more an opportunity to tap into the same expectations they’d get from a luxury resort — or, at least, a higher-end one aiming to hit the status of something like the Sofitel in Bangkok, Thailand. Frequent business travelers often have accumulated massive piles of reward points (and maybe have bigger travel budgets) and may be accustomed to this, and there’s also plenty of opportunity to target the same kinds of experiences that something like an Atlantis full-service resort in the Bahamas might offer (with water slides and all).

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Hotels, cruises, airports and tour operators are making wellness a priority in 2018.

Wellness-Tourism

Source: By Shivani Vora - New York Times 

What aspect of the travel industry won’t wellness touch in 2018?

Perhaps none.

From hotels and cruises to airports, airlines, safaris and group tours, wellness promises to be everywhere in the world of travel. Five years ago wellness on the road meant heading to a destination spa to embark on a specific program such as weight loss or staying at a hotel with a nice gym; more recently, the concept has evolved to include all categories of travel, and encompasses overall physical and emotional health.

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A Jamaican Traditional Healer Needs Our Support

Bongo-at-Zimbali

Westmoreland, Jamaica, W.I. (January 12, 2018). Bongo Roache of Westmoreland, Jamaica is one of our popular indigenous certified herbalist/practitioner and a Rastafarian. He has been practicing close to 40 years and freely offers his wisdom and healing methods to all. Today, he needs our support.

On the 31st of December Bongo had an unfortunate fall, stepping on a rock on his farm, he lost his balance, fell and fractured his left hip. He is presently in hospital awaiting a date for surgery, which has yet to be decided. Therefore, he has asked to receive private surgery at a competent hospital to immediately address any undue blood clotting trauma or misalignment of his hip, which would impair proper walking. Presently at the Savanna La Mar hospital in stable but sometimes painful condition, Bongo requires an implant to repair his hip fracture. After the operation he will require physiotherapy for several weeks to assist him to walk again. 

During his convalescence, he will be unable to practice his livelihood, denying his usual income, which comes from planting, reaping and preparing his herbal remedies from his home base and herbal practice at Zimbali Retreat, Canaan Mountain, Westmoreland. Mr. Mark Swainbank the owner of Zimbali Retreat and Sharon Parris Chambers, Health & Wellness Consultant, have both decided to source donations through “Go Fund Me" to assist Bongo Roache. 

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Spirit Airlines Adding More Flights to Jamaica

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Sunday January 7, 2018 – Spirit Airlines will be increasing flights to Jamaica in March.

It has announced additional flights to Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay from Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Maryland, United States, from March 22.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett hailed this development as yet another indication of the increasing demand for Jamaica and augurs very well for the tourism growth strategy.

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CARICOM Moving to Create World’s First Climate Resilient Region

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CARICOM’s incoming chairman, Jovenel Moise of Haiti, says the absolute necessity to create a climate smart region is clear, given the effects of climate change which have brought destructive hurricanes

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Wednesday January 3, 2018 – With the Bahamas and Dominica which were hit hard by hurricanes in September both aiming to be the world’s first climate resilient nations, the wider Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has a similar goal.

CARICOM’s incoming chairman, Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse says it’s aiming to create the first climate resilient region in the world.

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Find and mind Caribbean culture

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Source: ETN

Caribnewsroom Editor's Comment: This is a must read article which brings a wealth of respect and value to Caribbean peoples. Valuing a society, it mores and its contribution to the world is worth more than gold. (Sharon Parris-Chambers)

Maybe I should have suggested a headline ‘The quest for the Caribbean heart and soul and purifying its society’. But there are more and different perspectives to it. It should be a top resolution for the New Year. Tourists and especially the new generation of so called Millennials will become the core customer group from the Caribbean source markets for travel and leisure. They are known to be looking for authenticity when the they visit destinations. They wish to find, understand and experience original culture or at least significant remnants of it. Culture may be one of the highest of values of a territory.

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NEW YEAR MESSAGE FROM HUGH RILEY

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SECRETARY GENERAL CARIBBEAN TOURISM ORGANIZATION

Bridgetown, Barbados (28 Dec 2017) - This has been a challenging year for Caribbean tourism. While the first half of the year saw exciting growth in both tourism infrastructure and tourist arrivals over the previous year, in September we were hit hard by a series of unusual hurricanes that not only destroyed property, but also took the lives of many of our citizens. We must never forget the souls we lost along the way.

Physically, we will recover. Our Caribbean people are a resilient population. We will put the bricks and mortar back together and the hotels and vegetation will rise again and shine in the brilliant sunlight.

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Bartlett to Present the Montego Bay Declaration at UNWTO Conference in Switzerland

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Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett travels to Geneva, Switzerland today (December 17, 2017) , to present the recently unveiled Montego Bay Declaration, to delegates attending the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) Closing Ceremony for the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017.

“The Declaration of Montego Bay will become incorporated in the documents and the outcomes of the International Year of Sustainability. This is the perhaps the biggest legacy that we could hope for as a small destination – that our name will be indelibly etched in the lexicon of tourism references so that children yet unborn, will know that Montego Bay existed,” said Minister Bartlett.

The 15-point Declaration was one of the major outcomes of the recently concluded UNWTO Global Conference on Sustainable Tourism held in Montego Bay from November 27 to 29. It was first presented by Minister Bartlett and Executive Director of the UNWTO, Carlos Vogeler, on November 29 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James.

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IIPT INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF COMMUNITY TOURISM AND PEACE DECLARED FOR 2018

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Mandeville, Jamaica, W.I. (December 4, 2017) Louis D’Amore, Founder/President of the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT), has designated 2018 the IIPT International Year Of Community Tourism And Peace in collaboration with Countrystyle/Villages As Businesses.

In 1994, the IIPT branded Jamaica The Home of Community Tourism in recognition of the two pioneers of the community tourism brand and programmes in 1978 in Mandeville Jamaica, Diana McIntyre-Pike, Founder/President, Countrystyle Community Tourism Network and her late business partner Desmond Henry from Treasure Beach, Jamaica. 

In 2013, on the recommendation of the IIPT Caribbean Chapter, the IIPT welcomed the Caribbean Region to join as partners. The Caribbean was then also branded "Home of Community Tourism." The IIPT International Year Of Community Tourism And Peace will mark the 40th Anniversary of Community Tourism, which Countrystyle/Villages as Businesses began in Jamaica and is now an international movement. Celebrations in Jamaica will begin on January 1with a Gospel Concert in Apple Valley Park, Maggotty, St Elizabeth, and will continue at the 15th Annual Resource UNIA-ACL Marcus Garvey Fair in Cross Keys, Manchester on February 25. The 2018 IIPT International Year Of Community Tourism And Peace will also commemorate IIPT’s 30th Anniversary Year. 

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Jamaica Ready for Global Sustainable Tourism Conference

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With just a few days to go, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett is satisfied that all systems are in place for the November 27 to 29 staging of the global conference on sustainable tourism at the Montego Bay Convention Centre (MBCC).

Registration for the UNWTO, Government of Jamaica, World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism, was set to cut off on November 17 but was extended to the November 20 to accommodate a last-minute flurry.  

Following a reconnaissance visit to the MBCC and reports from the organizing committee on Saturday (November 18), Minister Bartlett gave the thumbs up. “I’m very satisfied with what I’ve seen and heard,” he said.

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Minister Bartlett to Address International Travel Crisis Management Summit In London

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In his capacity as chairman of the newly formed Caribbean Tourism Recovery Group Secretariat (CTRGS) and coordinator of the ‘UNWTO Disaster Recovery Working Group for the Affected States in the Caribbean’, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has been invited to give an address at the International Travel Crisis Management Summit (ITCMS) in London.

Minister Bartlett, who departed the island yesterday (November 02, 2017), will use the platform at the ITCMS to share the measures being implemented to increase resiliency in the sector. A major part of this is the creation of the Tourism Rehabilitation Action Plan for the Caribbean islands recently devastated by natural disasters.

“The Caribbean remains united in rebuilding our tourism sector to its former glory. In fact, my Ministry is working very closely with the international and regional organizations as well as other Ministers within the Caribbean to create a working strategy to strengthen the sector’s resilience to the effects of climate change and natural disaster, thus making it more sustainable,” said the Minister. 

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