Tourism in the Caribbean is a major component of the regions economy. Many of the island nations governments invest heavily in attracting tourists to their beaches, resorts and attractions, more so than some invest in the infrastructure of their countries. Extensively large all-inclusive hotels are built by foreign investors and the governments welcome new carriers opening new routes of travel to their islands.
According to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the Caribbean Basin is the most tourist-dependent region in the world. The region’s tourism dollars exceed gross exports by about a third of total receipts, and about a million workers are employed in the tourism industry. Many factors influence tourism in the Caribbean Basin
Statistics from the CTO lists Jamaica as one of the few countries in the Caribbean that experienced an overall increase of 3.6% in visitors, along with Guyana, Cuba, Curacao and the Dominican Republic.
On our most recent visit to Jamaica, we took a look on what effect has on vendors in the Northern coastal town of Ocho Rios.
Tourism is an important part of Jamaica’s economy. Because of the island’s warm climate and year-round sunshine, its beaches and beautiful landscape, many thousands of people from all over the world come here each year for a holiday.
Jamaica’s tourism had its beginning in the latter part of the nineteenth century when invalids started coming to Jamaica to escape the cold winters in England and North America. The first tourist hotels were built in Montego Bay and Port Antonio. The now defunct Myrtle Bank Hotel in Kingston was built in 1892. In those early days, tourism was limited largely to the rich, the old, the few.
Tourism began to prosper in Jamaica after World War I, when improved methods of transportation made it easier for people to get from one country to the other. Indications are that in the early 1920s the number of tourists visiting the island annually probably did not exceed a few thousand. By 1938 the figure had risen to 64,000, and in 1952 the number of arrivals almost doubled to over 104,000; in 1966 the number exceeded 345,000, and in 1970 nearly 415,000. In 1982 it exceeded 600,000. Since the 198788 season, the number of visitors has exceeded one million a year and has continued to grow, partly as a result of the great increase in the arrivals of cruise-ship passengers. Total arrivals for 1993 were 1,616,430.
Mainly because of the white-sand beaches and pleasant weather, Jamaica’s north coast has become the island’s tourist centre, the main points being Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Port Antonio. Many tourists visit Kingston, but this city is most important as a commercial centre and the seat of the Government.
Today, tourism is considered Jamaica’s second most important earner of foreign exchange. Stores, restaurants, transportation, and many other activities that cater to tourists also provide direct employment in the industry.
Many other Jamaicans in every sector of the economy earn part of their income from tourism. For example, farmers supply food to the hotels and restaurants, and skilled carpenters make furniture; but there is no available estimate of this indirect employment. The centre of the tourist industry is the Jamaica Tourist Board. Originally created in 1922 by Government as the Jamaica Tourist Trade Development Board, the present Board was reorganised in 1963 and a full-time Director of Tourism appointed. There is also a Ministry of Tourism.
A notable change in Jamaica’s export economy since Independence has been the development of non-traditional exports. These include flowers and ornamental plants, specialised tropical fruits, art and crafts. New growth industries include garment manufacturing, particularly as a result of the Caribbean Basin Initiative, data processing, music and entertainment.