Jamaica’s tourism industry is rebounding strongly from the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with earnings of $3.64 billion in 2022.
Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, made the announcement during a House of Representatives session.
“We ended the year equalling the record-breaking earnings of tourism of US$3.64 billion, and the [2022/23] fiscal year, which I will report on when we make our [2023/24] budget presentation, is going to show US$4.2 billion earnings in tourism, which would be US$500 million more than 2019, which is the best year in our history,” Mr. Bartlett said.
He added that the 2022/23 winter season has “started with a bang,” with January’s figures showing a 463% increase over last year and a 29 percentage point increase over 2019.
Mr. Bartlett stated that nearly 8,000 workers are now contributing to the tourism pension scheme, resulting in $350 million in savings.
He stated that the scheme is on track to reach 10,000 members this winter season.
“The potential for this pension programme is to have over 350,000 members, and that savings will bring billions of dollars, which will now become a pool of affordable funds for capital development and on-lending for various other investment projects,” Mr. Bartlett said.
“And we know in economics that one of the bases on which solid growth is predicated is when the domestic savings of a country [are] converted into an investment,” he added.
The pension plan is intended to cover all tourism workers between the ages of 18 and 59, whether permanent, contract or self-employed.
They include hotel employees as well as those working in related industries such as craft vendors, tour operators, red cap porters, contract carriage operators, and attraction workers. Benefits will be payable at the age of 65 or older.