Bartlett calls for erasing of image that tourism is for ‘the big man’ Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has declared that the long-held perception that tourism is for the “big man” is not true, as the industry can take an individual from nothing and “make you into something”.

Bartlett made the bold statement at Wednesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, during which he disclosed that some 40 per cent of the US$4.38 billion that was earned from the tourism industry for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, was retained in the Jamaican economy. 

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett

“The image that tourism has borne over the years is for the big man, we want to totally erase that image because it is not true,” he insisted.

“There is no industry on planet Earth that does more and offers more opportunity for the smallest of persons with the least idea; not a genius, not a rocket scientist, but starting from a little guy with an idea, a foolish little idea to make crabs race, and in no time they’re driving a car and sending their children to school and building a house. I’ve seen it happen,” Bartlett stated. 

In fact, he said crab racing is “a big thing” in Trinidad, for example.

“When I was talking about it (crab racing) at one of our seminars in the region, someone said, ‘Of course’.

“But it doesn’t take a great PhD. It takes an ordinary little guy who has probably never been to school.

That’s what tourism does. It can take you from nothing and to make you into something, and that’s the new image we must have of the industry,” Bartlett indicated. 

In pointing to the percentage of the earnings that remain in Jamaica, which he said is beneficial to the local economy, the minister said the revenues earned are also reinvested in the costs associated with operations.

Additionally, he reminded that tourism is “an import that you export, so you have to bring in the product first”.That, he said, involves bringing the tourists into the country, the airlines, marketing and advertising arrangements. 

After the completion of those processes, “then the issues of the capital expenditures that have been made to create the facilities here and the infrastructure … all of these are external payments that have to be made,” Bartlett said.

Costs relative to tour operators and travel agencies are also additional expenses that are factored in the calculation of tourism revenues.

“When that is over, you now have to deal with the domestic cost, starting with the taxation, and yesterday (Tuesday in Parliament), I indicated that $53 billion of direct taxes go into the consol (consolidated) fund,” Bartlett explained. 

The consolidated fund is the principal Government account to which all Government revenues must be deposited, and from which expenditure, via warrants, is withdrawn.

Meanwhile, Bartlett said the Jamaican economy could benefit from more retention of tourism dollars if greater investments are made locally.

“We have to invest more on the supply side so that that (the) 40 per cent that stays here can become 50 or 60 (per cent), because the less we import is the more we retain,” the minister said.