Maureen Denton (right), executive director and head of the Secretariat of the
Economic Growth Council (EGC), with (from left) Jason Henzell, founder of the
St Elizabeth-based community development organisation, BREDS; Diana
McIntyre-Pyke, founder-president, International Institute for Peace Through
Tourism – Caribbean; and Rudi Page, Global Diaspora director. They were at
the launch of ‘The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development’
and ‘The Global Diaspora Engagement Plan for Community Tourism’ at the
Tourism still a major force in Ja's economic development
Tourism is a key driver for economic development in Jamaica and is also contributing substantially to the country's gross domestic product (GDP), according to Maureen Denton, executive director and head of the secretariat of the Economic Growth Council (EGC).
The EGC is the body appointed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in 2016 to consult widely and to advise Cabinet on a collection of broad platform policies and reforms that would facilitate economic growth.
Noting that 2017 has been designated by the United Nations 'The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development', Denton said: "Tourism is a powerful and transformational force that is making a genuine difference in the lives of many people, including employees in the sector."
She, however, noted that there is room for improvement in the expenditure per tourist on the island and called on Jamaicans to provide products and services that can bring "increased value added to the industry and improve the tourist arrival multiplier on GDP".
Speaking at the launch of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and The Global Diaspora Engagement Plan for Community Tourism at the Mandeville Hotel on January 18, Denton said that "Jamaica is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with some of the most innovative and productive people in the world, and we should ensure that all visitors to the island have a truly immersive experience, which includes our communities, in substantive and profitable ways.
"We have much room within which to be innovative as far as to offer an authentic, gratifying, and reasonably priced and profitable experience, one that enchants our visitors, is inclusive, and dignifies our workers and our communities," Denton said.
Calling on Jamaicans to reacquaint themselves with "our cultural roots", she said that Jamaica's cultural profile makes it very attractive to foreigners and "culture and creativity is our secret weapon ... as unlike a beach or a waterfall, it only exists here and cannot be easily copied."
Denton pointed out that the human element is just as critical to a successful tourism industry. In this regard, she said, treating staff with care and dignity "will increase worker productivity and innovation and that will, in turn, contribute to a positive customer experience, lower costs, and increased profit."
She stressed the EGC's commitment to "harness the power of the diaspora" - one of eight growth initiatives recommended by the EGC to the Cabinet last November.