Newly elected President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Robin Russell, is imploring Jamaicans to tap into their creative genius to create products that will entice tourists to spend more locally.
He said that while the sector continues to see unprecedented levels of growth in arrivals and revenue, more needs to be done to ensure that the country retains a greater portion of the tourism dollar.
The JHTA President was speaking at the opening ceremony for the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) 2022 Business Expo held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Rose Hall, St. James, on November 4.
He said that the sector continues to be a catalyst for growth, providing the country’s main source of foreign revenue, and has grown by 36 per cent in the last 30 years compared to overall economic growth of 10 per cent for the same period.
However, he noted that despite a buoyant industry, the tourism dollar does not stay in the destination.
“We have ways to go in retaining that tourism dollar in Jamaica, and I challenge each and every one of you to find that product that will [make] one more dollar [from the] four-point odd million tourists [per year],” Mr. Russell said.
He urged Jamaicans to “look at providing products to hotels that are locally produced, not imported”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Russell said that the sector continues to rebound strongly after being hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and is poised to generate a projected US$5 billion in earnings for the 2023 calendar year, based on the current trend.
For his part, President of the MBCCI, Oral Heaven, said that MoBay Expo 2022 created opportunities for players in the business sector to showcase their goods and services, thus creating linkages that will redound to the growth and development of St. James.
“Through this expo and other initiatives, we expect to take this city to a higher level as it relates to public order, cleanliness, international investment and, of course, local investment,” he said.
Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Leeroy Williams, said that the expo has helped to reposition Montego Bay as “the hottest, most sought-after business destination, not only in Jamaica but across the Caribbean”.
The MoBay Expo 2022 was held in partnership with the St James Municipal Corporation from November 4 to 6, under the theme ‘Building resilience, creating opportunities’.
Government officials at the opening ceremony were Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang; Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton and State Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister West, Hon. Homer Davis.