Bartlett to target Jamaican diaspora for local tourism investment

Jamaican Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett

Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said his ministry would start looking seriously at “diasporic tourism” as a way to accelerate tourism investment in the country.

Addressing the online ‘Let’s Connect with Ambassador Marks’ public meeting on Thursday evening, the Minister of Tourism said: “Jamaica’s large and nostalgic diaspora has the potential to be a key driver of growth and diversification of tourism”.

“As the diaspora population grows, the acquisition of substantial financial assets creates opportunities for them to return and invest in the national economy as business tourists and returning residents,” Bartlett emphasized. .

“It’s really the diaspora that takes Jamaica to the world and the world to Jamaica. Typically, emigrants contribute to their home country through the “five T-channels”: transportation, telecommunications, trade, remittances, and tourism. The potential of Jamaicans living abroad to contribute to sustainable development locally should not be underestimated,” he said.

Bartlett observed that “the Diaspora is best placed to market Brand Jamaica to all corners of the world. It is recognized that the existence of a large diaspora population in global markets, with an appetite and affinity for Jamaican culture, products and services, provides a ready market for Jamaican businesses and entrepreneurs, including including those in the tourism sector.

“The Diaspora are a major component of our market, and are also major traders because foreigners are more motivated to visit Jamaica by ‘word of mouth’ and the lived experiences of the Jamaicans they meet than by what is advertised on television or digital or social media platforms such as YouTube,” he said.

The Tourism Minister’s remarks are in line with Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who last year encouraged the Jamaican diaspora to take advantage of investment opportunities on the island.

Addressing a virtual diaspora symposium last year, Prime Minister Holness noted that while the tourism sector has suffered billion dollar losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jamaica has maintained its cash flow in foreign currencies due to the contribution of the diaspora to their relatives on the island. .

Beyond remittances, Holness said the diaspora continues to promote trade, build businesses and drive entrepreneurship on the island. But he also believes that the diaspora has not exploited its full potential for investment on the island.

The Jamaican diaspora is one of the largest in the world and is estimated at over three million people. The United States, particularly South Florida, New York and Atlanta, is home to more than half of the diaspora with approximately 1.8 million Jamaicans.

Jamaican expatriates are most numerous in the Northeastern United States (approximately 1.1 million), including Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. The second largest concentration is in the southern United States (approximately 450,000), primarily in metro Miami, Atlanta, Orlando and Tampa. According to Minister Bartlett, the minor concentration is in other regions, including the West and Midwest (approximately 150,000), with most people living in Los Angeles.

“To unleash the power of the diaspora, we need to move beyond the tendency to assume that diaspora tourists will always come, that we don’t have to market them, that we don’t have to attract them and that we don’t have to plan for them. This is a taken-for-granted assumption, as members of the Diaspora operate in very competitive market spaces. Our advantage, however, is that they have identity ties to Jamaica,” he concluded.

In honor of Jamaica 60th year of independence, the Jamaican government has partnered with local hoteliers to offer s60 Jamaican couples from the diaspora have the opportunity to vacation on the island between mid-August and mid-December. More details on the initiative will be shared later.

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