As the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry seeks to lead the drive for investment in the resort city, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett has pointed to tourism as a major catalyst for growth.
Minister Bartlett was the keynote speaker at the business panel discussion of the recently staged Invest MoBay seminar, hosted by the chamber at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. Stating that “investment goes where it is in invited and stays where it is appreciated,” Minister Bartlett explored what Montego Bay was doing to invite investment.
“Montego Bay, for us to talk investment, the first and most important element that we must demonstrate is social stability,” he advised.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, (center) advises participants in the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s recent Invest MoBay forum that tourism is the best investment route for the resort city
Looking at stability from the viewpoint of the relationship between people in the different communities and how that relates to tourism, Mr. Bartlett underlined the importance of safety, security and seamlessness.
He also pointed to the importance of Montego Bay having readily available data about its demography, providing information about people and the size of the market, financial institutions, academic offerings and access to technology.
In all this, Minister Bartlett said, the role of the public sector is to create an enabling environment “to provide information for you with regards to policies and the framework within which business and investment can operate.”
He stressed that to enable legislation and regulation, Government had to be informed and have a schedule of available key investment options. There must be readiness to respond to new investment opportunities, bearing in mind that innovation was central to the process of creating and building new and exciting vistas, he noted.
“So, we shouldn’t be in a position where we lock ourselves into traditional investment forms and traditional industrial activities or traditional service activities. We must also be in a position where we open our minds to new investments, to new ideas, to new processes and to new systems,” said Minister Bartlett.
He also underscored the need to be in a position to absorb new ideas and new investment, advising that the absorptive capacity “is what truly determines whether Montego Bay will get further investment or not.”
Tourism, he said, had the greatest opportunity for supporting the economy “and is what has given the highest level of penetration within the Montego Bay community and has the greatest level of resilience and potential for sustainability.”
He said experiences are what now drive tourism and Montego Bay, regarded as the fastest growing city in the region, “will always offer numerous experiences that will be attractive to visitors.”
To enable a sustainable tourism product and to drive investment, Minister Bartlett said the Sangster International Airport is to be expanded with the customs and immigration halls undergoing significant expansion and the runway extended to accommodate larger and more powerful aircraft. “We have to expand Montego Bay airport, look to bringing in new facilities and to use new technology more effectively so that we have a seamless flow of visitors,” said the tourism minister.
He also spoke of the need to ensure the availability of “first class accommodation” and Montego Bay was on track in attracting new hotel investments, with 1000 new rooms coming on steam this year and over 2,000 within the next four to five years.
Pointing to the need for a convention hotel to complement the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Minister Bartlett suggested to the chamber of commerce that it be placed on a bucket list of things for which to find new investors. “We will have space for on this hotel on the convention center property because what we want to do is to tie in the product in a way that allows for marketing and for groups and conventions to be able to buy packages that are economically viable,” said Mr. Bartlett.
Minister Bartlett also suggested opportunities for investment in tourism by building out the capacity for shopping, gastronomy, health and wellness, sports and entertainment, and education. He said discussion was underway with a large group aimed at getting investment in a big mall in Montego Bay. At the same time, Government is rewriting the shopping policy “to enable the fiscal space that is required to bring a wider variety of items that will fall under special duty arrangements.”
PHOTO: Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, (center) being escorted to the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Invest MoBay seminar at the Montego Bay Convention Center by General Manager of the Centre, Ditty Guise (left), and Assistant General Manager, NCB Corporate Banking Division, Winston Lawson