ADDRESS BY NICOLA MADDEN GREIG, PRESIDENT

JAMAICA HOTEL & TOURIST ASSOCIATION  AT THE OPENING SESSION FOR THE SPEED NETWORKING EVENT

HALF MOON HOTEL
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 21, 2015

SALUTATIONS…

TODAY MARKS A HISTORIC AND SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE FOR JAMAICA AS WE CONTINUE TO FORGE NEW PARTNERSHIPS AND LINKAGES TOWARDS STRENTHENING AND SHOWCASING BRAND JAMAICA.

FOR OVER 50 YEARS THE JHTA AND THE JTB HAVE BEEN THE STANDARD BEARERS FOR BRAND JAMAICA. EACH YEAR WE VISIT THE MAJOR MARKETS OF THE USA, CANADA, UK, EUROPE, THE CARIBBEAN AND LATIN AMERICA POUNDING THE STREETS IN HEAT, RAIN OR SNOW ENTICING VISITORS TO OUR SHORES FOR A TRUE JAMAICA EXPERIENCE.

THOSE EFFORTS IN 2014 RESULTED IN JUST OVER 2 MILLION STOP OVERS ARRIVALS, ROUGHLY A 3% INCREASE OVER 2013 AND ANOTHER 1.8 million IN CRUISE VISITORS ALL IN A VERY TOUGH COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENT.

THE INDUSTRY GENERATES just about US$2 billion in earnings PER YEAR, EMPLOYS IN EXCESS OF 100,000 PEOPLE WITH OVER 74,000 EMPLOYED IN THE ACCOMMODATION AND RESTAURANT SECTOR ALONE AND HAS AN INDIRECT BENEFICIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH SEVERAL OTHER SECTORS IMPACTING FARMERS, TAXI, BUS DRIVERS, RETAILERS, SPORTSMEN AND WOMEN.

THIS ACHIEVEMENT IS SUPPORTED BY THE FACT THAT HOTELS AND ATTRACTIONS CONTINUE TO SHOWCASE TO THESE VISITORS A WIDE RANGE OF JAMAICA PRODUCTS AND SERVICES AS A PART OF THEIR JAMAICA EXPERIENCE.

TODAY’S EVENT SEEKS TO BROADEN AND DEEPEN THAT RELATIONSHIP WITH 52 HOTELS/ATTRACTIONS MEETING WITH 82 SUPPLIERS TO THE INDUSTRY. A TOTAL OF just under 1000 APPOINTMENTS HAVE BEEN SCHEDULED FOR TODAY AND WE ANTICIPATE A ROBUST DAY OF NEGOTIATIONS.

THIS EVENT IS IMPORTANT NOT ONLY AS A SALES EVENT BUT AS A MARKET RESEARCH PLATFORM WHERE LOCAL COMPANIES CAN TRULY SEEK TO UNDERSTAND THE CHANGING NEEDS OF THE INTERNATIONAL TRAVELLER AND HOW THEY CAN PROVIDE AUTHENTIC JAMAICAN PRODUCTS AND SERVICES TO SATISFY AN INCRESINGLY DISCERNING, TECHNOLOGY DRIVEN AND SAAVY TRAVELLER.

WE AT THE JHTA RECOGNIZE FOR US TO CONTINUE TO NOT ONLY DO WELL BUT TO TRULY THRIVE, HAVING A POSITIVE VIEW TO CHANGE AND INNOVATION IS CRITICAL TO US MAINTAINING A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE AND THIS MUST BE REFLECTED IN THE LOCAL PRODUCTS AND SERVICES THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO US IN ORDER TO EXCEED THE EXPECTATIONS OF OUR CLIENTELE.

AS A NUMBER OF EXISTING HOTELS CONTINUE TO INVEST IN THEIR PROPERTIES WITH MAJOR REFURBISHMENT AND EXPANSION OF SERVICE OFFERINGS, AS NEW AND INNOVATIVE HOTELS AND ATTRACTIONS COME ON STREAM, IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THE LOCAL MANUFACTURING, AGRICULTURE, CRAFT AND SERVICES SECTOR NOT ONLY RECOGNIZES THE POTENTIAL THAT THE OVER 3 MIILION VISITORS TRANSLEATE TO IN POTENTIAL SPEND .

THESE SECTORS MUST AS WE IN TOURISM MUST, REMAIN ADAPTABLE, RELEVANT AND RESPONSIVE. GONE ARE THE DAYS OF JUST MAKING A CALL TO THE PURCHASING MANAGER AND AUTOMATICALLY GETTING THE ORDER. TODAY’S COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENT REQUIRES A NEW LEVEL OF PERSISTENCE, ASSERTIVENESS AND OUTRIGHT BOLDNESS.

TOURISM IS THE ONLY INDUSTRY THAT CAN, IN ESSENCE, GROW THE SIZE OF OUR DOMESTIC ECONOMY.

AS MENTIONED, A COMBINATION OF OVER 3.6 MILLION VISITORS DESENDEDED ON OUR SHORES, THIS IS A DIRECT INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF POTENTIAL BUYERS IN OUR DOMESTIC MARKET.

WHAT IS ESSENTIAL IS THAT WE CAPITALIZE ON THIS AS A COUNTRY.

ADDITIONALLY MANY OF OUR HOTEL AND ATTRACTION OPERATE NOT ONLY IN JAMAICA BUT REGIONALLY AND IN SOME CASES WORLDWIDE. FORGING THE RIGHT PARTNERSHIPS AND DELIVERING PREMIUM PRODUCTS AND SERVICES LOCALLY MAY WELL OPEN UP DOORS TO EXPORT OF OUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES TO OTHER DESTINATIONS.

I URGE ALL SUPPLIERS HERE TODAY TO THINK BIG, BE STRATEGIC AND RECOGNIZE THAT LIKE IN ANY OTHER MARKET THE PERSON WHO WINS THE BID GETS THAT CONTRACT BY NOT ONLY PROVIDING THE RIGHT QUALITY, THE RIGHT PRICE BUT ALSO THE RIGHT CUSTOMER SERVICE.

AS THE JHTA WE WILL CONTINUE TO KEEP THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATON OPEN AS WE CONTINUE TO SEEK WAYS TO SHOWCASE BRAND JAMAICA.

BASED ON THE NEW COMPETITIVE PLAYING FIELD, IT IS IMPORTANT THAT JAMAICA RECOGNIZES THAT IN ORDER FOR TOURISM TO ACHIEVE ITS FULL POTENTIAL AND PROVIDE EXPONENTIAL GROWTH WE MUST REMAIN COMPETITIVE.

IN THE SHORT TO MEDIUM TERM, TOURISM CAN RAPIDLY ASSIST IN PROVIDING REAL RETURNS TO JAMAICA COMPARED TO THE LEVEL EFFORT THAT WOULD BE REQUIRED FOR THAT SAME GROWTH FROM, FOR EXAMPLE, NON-TRADITIONAL EXPORTS.

AS A COMPARISON, GROSS DIRECT TOURISM EARNINGS WERE AT JUST OVER US$2 BILLION WHILE NON-TRADITIONAL EXPORTS STAND AT US$699,500 MILLION IN 2013.

A 15% GROWTH IN TOURISM EARNING, WOULD MOVE US TO $2.38 BILLION IN EARNINGS , A DIFFERENCE OF ROUGHLY US$310.500 MILLION . FOR NON TRADITIONAL EXPORTS TO PROVIDE THAT SAME INCREASE WOULD REQUIRE ALMOST A 50% INCREASE IN EXPORT REVENUES.

I THERFORE CANNOT OVER EMPHAZISE THE TRUE POTENTIAL OF TOURISM AS A CATALYST TO TRANFORM THE JAMAICAN ECONOMY.

TO CLOSE I WOULD JUST LIKE TO RECOGNIZE THE HARD WORK OF THE PLANNING TEAM AT THE JHTA SECREATARIT WHO WORKED IN TANDEM WITH THE MINISTRY OF TOURISM LINKAGES HUB, THE JMA, JAMPRO, JBDC AND RADA TO MAKE THIS EVENT POSSIBLE.. .