Nicola Madden Greig (centre), President, JHTA with Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF), Brenda Cuthbert (left) and JEF President, David Wan at the JEF CEO Breakfast held at Knutsford Court Hotel on June 30, 2014. Mrs. Madden Greig was guest speaker at the event.
"TOURISM IS ESSENTIAL TO JAMAICA'S ECONOMY"
A Catalyst for Growth beyond Sun, Sea and Sand
Monday, June 30, 2014
Firstly, i would like to thank the jamaica employers federation for inviting me today to speak to you on this industry that i have a passion for. As the newly elected president of the association this will be my first official speaking engagement and it is probably appropriate that it should be to the organization that Comprises the leaders of many of jamaica's core businesses.
Today, I want to start by doing an overview of the contribution of tourism, its economic impact on jamaica, looking at a few opportunities in tourism and then focusing on how together we can take advantage of this industry to the benefit of all jamaicans. Beyond doubt tourism is essential to jamaica's economy!
In 2013, the sector for the first recorded over 2 million stop-over arrivals, a growth rate of 1.1% over 2012. These visitors enjoyed the diverse resort areas of jamaica. Montego accounts for 31%, ocho rios 23.8%, negril 20.5% and kingston 10.7% as the main areas visited
Additionally, jamaica welcomed an additional 1.26 million cruise ship passengers to our shores.
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.
For example, average expenditure per person/night in 2012 was us$117.23 for stop-over arrivals. Top spending was on accommodation at 48.7%, 12% entertainment, 10.1% shopping and 7.2% on food & beverage.
Cruise passengers spent on average US$76/person
Now, I want to focus somewhat on this interdependent relationship between tourism and other sectors not Only because you are the jamaica employers federation and employment is key to you but because, i feel that More than any other time in our economic history the multiplier effect of tourism has to be harnessed, Beyond the ubiquitos sand and sea and the accommodation sector. The facts is that the tourism dollar permeates the entire local community. But we must combine and maximize the economic value with the non-economic impacts to get a more holistic view of the value of tourism.
Yes it is labour-intensive and includes large, micro and small business operations which means the effect is felt quickly and directly through local spending even outside of the traditional resort areas. So the key Benefits of tourism are both economic and socio cultural.
On the economic side tourism provides direct jobs to many communities including jobs in hotels and Attractions and indirect employment through industries such as agriculture, food production, retail, fashion and art.
Tourism creates jobs and stimulates increased and diversified economic activity which results in Development and investment. Many of our visitors are potential investors whose positive vacation experience may garner a long term business relationship with our island.
The economic benefits are unquestionable. Each year the sector posts the highest levels of foreign Exchange receipts - approx. Us$2-b. From high end five star hotels, small villas, to the coconut vendor, the beneficiaries are many!
The government also benefits as not only does tourism raise tax revenues; it creates jobs to range of service providers including restaurants and the farmers that supply them with fresh produce.
The heightened commercial activity creates even more jobs in trading, banking and manufacturing.
Horticulturalists sell flowers to hotels, pastors and decorators work for hotels and on special events such as weddings and vow renewals. Farmers grow special crops and herbs especially for the industry as visitos are increasingly seeking organic/natural products.
To cite one example, one of our JHTA members started a farmers programme in 1996 with 10 farmers supplying Only two hotels. Today, the same member now works with over 100 farmers supplying hotels islandwide and Making sales in excess of j$4-m annually. But, as i said the benefits of tourism are not simply economic.
Socially, tourism brings a real sense of pride and identity to communities as they showcase the traditions And distinct characteristics of their way of life, history and culture. It results in enhanced quality of life, Community development and conservation of cultural heritage.
I particulalrly want to place some emphiasis here on a critical distinction that must be embraced for jamaica.
Tourism and its potential is not just about sun, sea and sand. City tourism, community tourism and other niche segments such as sports, edu-tourism and nature/culture are becoming more the reason for Travel for many international visitors. One such type of traveller is the millenials. The millenial generation (generation y) has grown up. Born between 1980 and the early 2000s, this generation is one of the largest since the baby boomers.
According to comscore, there are 79 million millenials in the us alone, while only 48 million generation xers (those born between the 60 to the 1980s).
The generation y millenials has now established themselves in the workforce, and they are travelling a Lot for play and work.
Worldwide business travelers age 30 and under are going on trips 4.7 times per year. 30-45 year olds are only Going 3.6 times per year. Millenials are predicted to surpass the spending power of baby boomers by 2018.
An important distinction is that more than 70% of millenials would rather spend money on an experience Than on a material item. They are also more open to adventure and unique one of a kind vacation.
As busines travelers they are putting more effort into making their trips more enjoyable than ever before. It's not all about work.
The line between when work starts and personal time begins has blurred significantly.
Jamaica tourism has to focus on these new breed of travellers.
City tourism is now experiencing major growth. In fact city tourism worldwide is growing faster than International tourism. The millennials as business travellers are part of the creative class who are Mainly knowledge workers, intellectuals and artistes.
Cities such as Kingston are ideal for this new traveller our reputation for nightlife, culture, music, art, sports and technology is key.
All our kingston hotels are non-all inclusive and promote destination kingston first encouraging guests To get out and explore the city and the impact of the tourism dollar is felt more immediately in the Surrounding communities. There is real opportunity to open up Kingston as the gateway to the east carrying Port Antonio, st. Thomas and the south coast. All these resort areas offer unique experiences and are geared towards the needs and expectations of this new millennial traveller. They are looking for hip, happening destinations. Our appeal is unquestionable.
In recent times many celebrity millennials have already been exploring including Beyonce and her sister Solange and Eve.
An example of one local company already targeting this segment is touch the road travel. I love this - as it Shows why as Jamaicans we need to remove our own reservations about what a tourist wants to do and open Up our minds to all the potential of Jamaica. The company is operated by a young american who's bio on their Website Reads:
Vivacious Ashley is originally from Connecticut, USA. As the Founder and CEO of Touch The Road, she is tireless in her drive to make Kingston, Jamaica a deeply desired travel destination. She is passionate, driven and ready to "knock some doors down" in the Travel industry. She is a Fulbright Scholar and a Crossword puzzle addict and favourite food is Hellshire Fried Fish and Festival.
There featured types of experiences include roots, rock, reggae, danehall days, extreme sporting jamaica Or volunteer jamaica. Integral to their programme is offering authentic community experiences utilizing Local people and services.
So when the JHTA speaks about tourism partners, we are not only referring to airlines or ground Transportation operators, attractions or other traditional partners.
Our stakeholders include government, investors, businesses and equally importantly, individuals and Communities which understand and recognize the importance of tourism not only to their own livelihood But the wider jamaica.
Tourism is the only industry that can, in essence, grow the size of our domestic economy.
As mentioned a combined 3.6 million visitors desendeded on our shores, this is a direct increase in the number of potential buyers in our domestic market.
Tourists - both leisure and business travellers avail numerous suppliers to the industry the advantage of a Wider market share than our 2.8 m population of jamaica provides annually.
So why support tourism?
Not only because of its foreign exchange receipts and/or the provision of jobs but because tourism can Significantly expand any local businesses market share whether they are directly involved in tourism or not.
Tourism brings an export market to the feet of every jamaican without having to ship one item overseas.
Every single entity directly involved in tourism such as accommodation and attractions need goods and Services to meet the needs of our visitors. We require of course the normal items, furniture and applicances, food & beverage, entertainment, but we also utilize insurance, banking, legal services, video and photography services, florists, doctors. Nurses, engineers, web developers, social media specialists and so much more.
It therefore, is important that today as diverse businesses that we recognize the tremendous Contribution and potential - it cannot be overstated:
The Jamaica tourist industry is so significant that onein every four persons is empoyed in the industry.
Tourism has contributed to the popularity of jamaicancuisine here and abroad and by extension local Restaurants, producers of jerk and other spices and condiments, canned and bottled jamaican drink and Food benefit. Our annual taste of jamaica competiton challenges our local chefs to create recipes using 100% local products which find their way on to hotel menus.
Local manufacturers, producers of art and craft,music, clothing and souvenirs. All benefit from "brandjamaica" popularized in tourism entities.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is clear from all that i have said that tourism is everybody's business.
It is a partnership among the public and private sector, every jamaican and every resident of jamaica.
I would just like to leave a few ideas and highlight opportunities on how we can increase the number of Visitors and spend within the country. While recognizing that the business of tourism is not just for the persons so-called "directly" in the industry.
In this room we probably have numerous professional and service organizations. Every single one of these Have annual regional and international conferences, meetings, retreats, trade shows, etc. If we all actively Encouraged our member district and regional associations to host their events in Jamaica, we could Significantly improve the arrivals to the island. The same holds true for sporting, religious and other Associations.
Most of us look forward to getting out of Jamaica and wish that the next conference or regional meeting will be in some exotic location and what a great vacation that will be.
We here in Jamaica have to start thinking selfishly and work towards bringing that business to Jamaica.
Facilities such as the Montego Bay convention centre should be booked out years in advance providing Tremendous spin off to the local area.
There is also great potential for entertainment to be a greater driver of tourism. Yes, there is the renowned Reggae Sumfest and jazz and blues festival but new players such as the very popular dream weekend has tapped into the millennial traveller and uses entertainment through their 10 party series to capture visitors to our shores. The event sees around 60,000 patrons with 55% of its season band holders travelling from overseas from USA, Canada, and as far away as Africa and Norway.
Yet we are still far away from our potential. Jamaica and Kingston in particular as the epi-centre of reggae And dancehall, should be able to entice, like jazz does for New Orleans, thousands of visitors as a cultural And music mecca. The current work in trench town is a step in the right direction but private sector interests should seek to create along with government - a music district similar to New Orleans famous French Quarter where live music is played in bars, lounges, cafes, restaurants, where music studios and record stores flourish side by side.
As a Kingston hotelier this is a complaint many of our guests make - I am in Kingston the birthplace of reggae - So where is the music? We need to fill this need and create a mecca for creative expression that brings Economic returns to our citizens. There is also opportunity in health/wellness which is now very topical. Jamaica has a wealth of highly trained medical professionals and an increasing number of first class facilities, combined with our inate hospitality, variety of accommodation options and climatic advantage there is no reason that Jamaica should not be benefitting.
The worldwide medical tourism market is estimated at somewhere between $35 - 55 million.
Patients without borders estimates 1.2 million Americans will travel outside the us for medical care in 2014. Facilities such as the newly relaunched Eden Garden wellness centre are a step in the right direction. Neighbouring countries such a Cayman with its state of the art health city facility which opened in march of this year and Barbados and far down the road.
We are already combining sports and wellness with a proliferation of 5ks and a few international marathons such as the Kingston city run organized by the JHTA Kingston chapter and ever popular reggae marathon in Negril.
As the JHTA we are encouraging our members to seek partnerships with area medical facilities and sports Associations. We are also partnering with other agencies such as jampro who are working on gaining International investments in these areas. Jamaica needs to sprint ahead and take its rightful place at the front of the pack.
With again our advantages outlined above edu-tourism is a natural fit for Jamaica. Nearly every international University has a cultural emersion or winter study programme. As a student doing my first degree in florida At fiu, i met hundreds of European students who came to learn English as a second language. Jamaica has all the assets to capitalize on this market and offer a range of courses. Just last week i met with one local Institution - University College Of The Caribbean - that is poised to launch such a series of programmes within the next couple weeks.
I am elated that finally some of us are truly seeing the full potential of tourism beyond sun, sea and sand.
While I have mainly been an hotelier my initial career path gave me exposure to the cruise and airline industry As well as the attraction sector. Hotel brands have long taken the lead in marketing the destination. On Average the accommodation sector spends over us$118 million per annum, roughly four times that of the Jamaica tourist board budget ($29 m) on marketing.
Potential visitors typically select their hotel then figure out what they want to do when they get here.
Jamaica's attraction sector and places of interest continue to be under-utlized. Jamaica has the potential To use attractions to drive visitor arrivals and claim its space as the number #1 destination in the Caribbean. We must be the Orlando of the Caribbean. Assets such as the blue & john crow mountains, Seville in St. Ann and Port Royal are just a few of the many that can be further developed. Local entrepreneurs need to see the potential of investing in this sub-sector that can, like Disney does for Orlando, create a scenario where travellers choose the attraction first then figure out later where they will stay.
Of course there are many other segments we can explore for example the ethnic mix in Jamaica presents Great opportunities for pilgrimages - jewish pilgrimage tourism is already growing in Jamaica with one group coming within the next month.
I encourage linking with the local embassies and high commissions on establishing similar heritage tours Geared at showcasing the deep roots of our "out of many one people" motto.
These niche segments such as some of the ones mentioned today go beyond the profile of the typical Winter traveller and can help solve the perennial issue of the low occupancy fall months of September - December and other low yield periods. Jamaica can flatten out its demand curve by thinking outside the box, Diversifying its markets and fostering partnerships across industries and communities.
If together we become the most enthusiastic Jamaica sales force for tourism we can drive hundreds of Thousands more visitors to our shores and expand our export market that is located domestically. This Presents opportunities for everyone directly and indirectly involved in the industry.
Together, we can reap the benefits and i look forward to the active participation of everyone to take Advantage of tourism.