By Latonya Linton
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Jamaica’s tourism sector continues to rebound strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic-induced economic fallout, generating earnings of US$3.64 billion in 2022.
Tourism minister, Edmund Bartlett, made this disclosure during Tuesday’s, January 10 sitting of the House of Representatives.
“We ended the year equalling the record-breaking earnings of tourism of US$3.64 billion, and the [2022/23] fiscal year, which I will report on when we make our [2023/24] budget presentation, is going to show US$4.2 billion earnings in tourism, which would be US$500 million more than 2019, which is the best year in our history,” Bartlett said.
He added that the 2022/23 winter season has, so far, “started with a bang”, with January’s figures, to date, showing a 463 percent increase over last year and 29 percentage points growth over 2019.
Regarding the tourism pension scheme, Bartlett said nearly 8,000 workers are now contributing to the plan, generating savings of $350 million. He indicated that the scheme is on track to reach 10,000 members during the current winter season.
“The potential for this pension programme is to have over 350,000 members, and that savings will bring billions of dollars, which will now become a pool of affordable funds for capital development and on-lending for various other investment projects,” Bartlett said.
“And we know in economics that one of the bases on which solid growth is predicated is when the domestic savings of a country [are] converted into investment,” he added.
The pension scheme is designed to cover all tourism workers, aged 18 to 59, whether permanent, contract or self-employed.
They include hotel workers as well as persons employed in related industries, such as craft vendors, tour operators, red cap porters, contract carriage operators and workers at attractions. The benefits will be payable at age 65 years or older.