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RIYADH: Jamaica, an island nation in the Caribbean, expects to receive at least 100,000 tourists from Saudi Arabia over the next three years, as the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in tourism, said said Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Bartlett said the new tourism agreement will also increase investment opportunities in Jamaica and the Kingdom.

“This MoU will aim to share best practices between the two countries. It will seek to help build human capital and build skill sets in exciting new areas of tourism. We are working to attract the first 100,000 visitors over the next three years,” Bartlett said.

He added, “Here is a great opportunity for Jamaican and Caribbean products to come to Saudi Arabia, and for Saudi products to come to us in the Caribbean.”

Read: Saudi cabinet approves Memorandum of Understanding on tourism with Jamaica

Improving the investment climate

Bartlett further noted that Jamaica is ready to invest as the coronavirus pandemic has not negatively impacted the country’s economic infrastructure.

“We want to indicate that the economic climate in Jamaica is conducive to your investment as COVID-19 has not ravaged our economy,” Bartlett added.

According to the Minister, Jamaica has already recorded five consecutive quarters of economic growth since the pandemic.

Here is a great opportunity for Jamaican and Caribbean products to come to Saudi Arabia, and Saudi products to come to us in the Caribbean.

Edmund Bartlett, Jamaican Minister of Tourism

The minister pointed out that the last quarter ended at 5.7% and that the island nation is expected to grow around 6% by the end of the calendar year.

The other striking feature of the Caribbean island is that the unions are progressive and understand the balance between labor and capital, making the nation a perfect place to invest.

gateway to the world

Bartlett added that gateway airports are crucial in elevating tourism activities between Saudi Arabia and Jamaica.

“The critical part is the gateway, the gateway to Riyadh or the gateway to Jeddah. We should build air connectivity. We have to open new gateways,” he said.

The tourism minister said his country’s partnership with the Gulf Cooperation Council would open doors to North Africa and Asia, including India and China, allowing access to the Caribbean and the Americas. . Last year, Bartlett told Arab News that establishing air connectivity between the two countries was a priority.

Cruising through opportunities

The Minister was particularly optimistic that the MoU could boost cruise tourism opportunities in the Kingdom when he revealed that the Caribbean holds 23 million of the world’s 28 million cruise trips.

“Cruising has been a strong feature of the Caribbean. We can train your cruise responders to understand the nature of the business,” added the Minister.

The partnership could facilitate memorable shore excursion experiences for visitors, in addition to sharing information on port infrastructure layouts and negotiating the best deals with cruise liners.

Saudi Arabia’s cruise tourism sector is growing steadily as the Kingdom diversifies its economy, which has been dependent on oil for several decades, in line with Vision 2030.

Cruise Saudi is a project led by the Public Investment Fund which aims to establish a stable cruise industry within the Kingdom. Earlier in August, Cruise Saudi signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Railways Co. to develop the Kingdom’s cruise industry.

Lars Clasen, CEO of Cruise Saudi, said the agreement aims to establish a meaningful partnership with the SRC to promote cruise tourism as a new and promising sector that actively contributes to the development of the country’s growing tourism industry. country.

Improve business relationships

The Jamaican minister added that the new tourism agreement will strengthen trade relations between Saudi Arabia and Jamaica.

Bartlett said: “The air connectivity will bring human cargo and agricultural products from Jamaica, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, we can bring spices and other delicious products from Saudi Arabia to this region.

He added that a logistics center for tourism supplies in the Caribbean would provide an excellent opportunity for Saudi products to find their way to hotels in the Americas.

Bartlett revealed that Jamaica has rebounded strongly from the pandemic, with the country’s tourism sector already earning $3 billion this year.

“Tourism revenue is already up 20% from 2019. We’ve already earned $3 billion from the industry, and it’s only the eighth month of the year,” he added. .

Jamaica is heavily dependent on tourism, as the sector contributes 10% of the country’s gross domestic product, Bartlett said.

Helen D. Jessen