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Jamaica is first Caribbean country to welcome 1 million visitors and bag $800m so far in 2019

March 13, 2019 at 12:00 pm | We Tour

Mildred Europa Taylor

Mildred Europa Taylor | Associate Editor

March 13, 2019 at 12:00 pm | We Tour

In just nine weeks since the beginning of 2019, Jamaica has been able to generate foreign exchange earnings of approximately $800 million after being the first Caribbean destination to welcome one million visitors during the period.

The latest arrival figures were disclosed by the Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett while speaking at the official opening of Montego Bay’s newest attraction, the Grand-A-View Restaurant and Event Place over the weekend.

“The industry is now at the peak of its growth, and the beauty about us in tourism is that we make new peaks… because we are in a constant state of growth and evolution. This peak has allowed Jamaica to be the first Caribbean destination in nine weeks to welcome one million visitors,” he said.

Last January, as part of moves of developing the tourism industry, the Jamaican government said it was renewing the focus on culinary assets or gastronomy to boost the tourism sector after gastronomy grew into a $150-billion industry globally.

Known as Jamaica’s Gastronomy Network, the Tourism ministry, in August 2018, invested some $20 million towards the further development of the gastronomy industry.

Bartlett said over the weekend that his outfit is going to further develop the industry to ensure that “ordinary Jamaicans” benefit from the positive trends in the sector.

“Eighty-eight per cent of the world travels for food experiences, and Jamaica has the best opportunity to create the finest of the food experiences that any visitor could hope for. This experience must be owned by the people of Jamaica not foreigners,” the Tourism Minister said.

“Food tourism is going to be the major drive for a greater experiential tourism product in Jamaica, but it is also going to be the basis on which a larger number of ordinary Jamaicans are going to be involved in the value chain of tourism.”

The minister further outlined measures to increase the consumption of goods and services under the country’s Tourism Linkages Network. The network further aims to boost employment while generating and retaining the country’s foreign exchange earning potential, reports Caribbean360.

Jamaica, the third largest island in the Caribbean, consists of coastal lowlands, a limestone plateau and the famous Blue Mountains that dominate the inland.

One of its cities, Montego Bay, is one of the best-known cities in the Caribbean for tourism, located on the north coast. Jamaica is also famed as the birthplace of reggae music, and its capital, Kingston is home to the Bob Marley Museum, dedicated to the famous singer.

Since 2008, as part of its determination to preserve culture and history, Jamaica has set aside February as reggae month to celebrate the impact that the homegrown music genre has had on the world.

The decision was announced by the then Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, on January 8, 2008, at Jamaica House. Jamaican authorities, at the time, stated that the main aim of reggae month was to sharpen the focus and draw the attention of the world to the powerful asset that is wholly Jamaican.

The launch of this year’s reggae month, dubbed “Golden Reggae Month” officially opened Jamaica’s doors to tourists and music lovers all over the world to come and have a feel of the genre in its original form from its home and celebrate 50 years of its existence.

This year’s celebration also marked the recent inscription of the Reggae Music of Jamaica to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) list of intangible treasures for the whole of humanity.

Jamaican authorities had, before this, welcomed the fact that reggae music will form the soundtrack for the historic 2019 Year of Return in Ghana. The government of Ghana launched the “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” in a quest to encourage African Americans and the black diaspora to return to the country where their ancestors were kidnapped and enslaved.

The Ghanaian government chose Jamaica as the destination for the Caribbean launch of the programme. The yearlong program, which is set to have a host of educative, interactive and other activity-filled events was subsequently endorsed by the government of Jamaica.

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