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Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett Delivers Upbeat Forecast

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Jamaica’s tourism industry has so far suffered very little disruption as the global economic meltdown drags on.

This was the upbeat message the island’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, relayed to a gathering of media practitioners in New York City last Friday, December 05, 2008, at the Annual Media Appreciation Reception held at the offices of public relations firm Ruder Finn in midtown Manhattan.

While conceding that it can not be business as usual in the face of the global economic crunch, the minister was nonetheless adamant that Jamaica was best situated among all Caribbean destinations to weather the storm.

“Jamaica has more than 157 attractions which is more than all the other Caribbean islands combined,” Mr. Bartlett said.

Minister Bartlett noted that Jamaica continues to show growth in the sector in every month except for July of this year (2008) and credited Jamaica’s focus on infrastructural development and diversification as key factors that will help to lessen the effect of the global economic challenges.

“The government of Jamaica has emphasized diversification of the industry in its stated program for tourism development. Faith-based tourism, health and wellness and sports tourism as well as the continued promotion of Jamaica as a honeymoon and wedding destination,” are some of the areas the minister identified as non-traditional zones primed for future growth.

Among the big promotion for 2009 the minister said, is the first ever Beach 100m Sprint even to be hosted in Negril on a specially built mondo track designed in the colours of the Jamaican flag. A notable feature of this track is that it is collapsible and portable, making it possible to stage another such event in another part of the island in a few days, the minister explained.

“All this is (is) to emphasize the pivotal role tourism plays in Jamaica’s economic development,” he said.

“Tourism is the lynchpin in the upturn of the economic and is the vehicle to get us out of the downturn, because of its chance for a quick turn around.” Minister Bartlett said.

Minister Bartlett noted that for the current Winter season, the sector will benefit from close to one million airline seats from strategic partnership and an aggressive marketing campaign with major players in the US market and he urged Jamaicans living overseas to consider coming home for vacation and to continue to promote the country as the best tourist destination there is.

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