Tourism is more than hotels and aeroplanes – Jamaica’s tourism minister tells Canadians


By Lincoln DePradine

From left: Kurt Davis (Consul General), Hon Alando Terrelonge, Her Excellency Marsha Coore Lobba, Hon Edmund Bartlett, Angella Bennet

Jamaican parliamentarian and cabinet minister, Edmund Bartlett, wants nationals – including those residing in Canada – to consider investing in the “supply side’’ of tourism, which encompasses food and drinks consumed by visitors to the Caribbean nation.

“Let us invest in the supply side of tourism and the wealth will be ours,’’ Edmund Bartlett, the tourism minister, commented last Saturday in Toronto.

He made the remarks, during a “Regional Jamaica Diaspora Conference Canada’’, in a discussion on, “The Future of Tourism, Sustainability and the Challenge of Climate Change’’.

Tourists to Jamaica spend 42 percent of their expenditure on food, said Bartlett, Member of Parliament for Saint James East Central.

He noted that, “for some reason, we tend to think that tourism is about hotels; and, if you don’t have a hotel, you’re not in the tourism business’’.

However, Bartlett emphasized that there is lucrative business to be done on the “supply side’’ of tourism.

“The challenge to the Diaspora in tourism is to get involved in the supply side. The investment on the supply side is where the wealth of tourism lies. You think it’s the demand side because you look at big hotels and you look at aeroplanes and you look at ships,’’ he said.

Jamaica Land we love

“But, the essence of tourism is consumption. It’s the food they eat; it’s the entertainment that they consume; it’s the attractions that they go to; it’s the Airbnb facilities that they utilize in the hills and valleys and crevices and corners. It is the water, it is the beer, it is the rum, it is the coffee; it’s all those things. That’s the essence of the wealth of tourism and it is us who must provide that.’’

Bartlett, in a general update on the state of Jamaica’s tourism sector, said training and certification have been provided to more than 10,000 workers.

A pension plan has been established for tourism employees, and the government also is building 4,000 houses for workers in the sector, said Bartlett.

“I have created the first-ever comprehensive pension plan for every worker in the tourism industry. Jamaica is the only country on planet earth that has a comprehensive pension plan for every category of worker in the industry,’’ he said.

“It’s a new approach to building capacity and inclusiveness. And, we are committed to the three Ps – people, planet and prosperity.’’

The hosting of the conference, which was suspended during the lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, was a hybrid event. Participants gathered at Ebenezer Holiness Church in Toronto, and there were satellite links to Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. It was also livestreamed on social media.

Among the Toronto participants were Jamaican diplomats Kurt Davis and Marsha Coore-Lobban. The two were newly appointed by the Jamaican government to serve in Canada.

Davis is consul general in Toronto and Coore-Lobban is high commissioner based in Ottawa.

“Consul General Davis and I are extremely delighted to be present for this engagement as it affords us the opportunity, at the onset of our respective tenures, to engage and hear from you, your views and issues of importance which are impactful on your lives and that of your families, friends and the wider community, both here in Canada as well as in Jamaica. It also serves as an introduction for us to the community,’’ Coore-Lobban said.