Jamaica PM Andrew Holness: How Tourism Can Boost Economic Recovery

Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica, outlines the future of the tourism industry and opportunities for leaders at the CEO Summit of the Americas.

Air Date: June 8, 2022

Featured Guests: Andrew Holness, Prime Minister, Jamaica

Tourism has changed since the pandemic hit in 2020, but it remains a strong stimulant for the American economy. The travel industry plays an important role in the reactivation and recovery of the economy in the Western Hemisphere.

Government and business leaders from across the Western Hemisphere gathered at the 2022 IV CEO Summit of the Americas, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Department of State, to discuss strategies for moving forward with sustainable tourism while maintaining innovation and growth in business. Andrew Holness, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, spoke on Day 1 of the Summit to highlight the role tourism plays in economic reactivation and recovery across the Americas.

Lessons for Leaders from the Pandemic’s Impact on Tourism

Tourism plays an important role in the Caribbean economy. Thousands of tourists visit the islands each year which, according to Holness, brings in approximately $60 billion in GDP and generates 2.8 million jobs. Approximately 15.2% of employment in the region falls within the tourism sector, he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions have placed a strain on the Caribbean’s economy. However, despite the challenges the pandemic caused, Holness maintains that leaders in the area learned many valuable lessons on the road to recovery.

“I think there are some things that the pandemic would’ve taught us, not just the region, but globally,” Holness said. “One, there needs to be a stronger partnership between governments and private sector partners in tourism to plan and manage crises in our region. In Jamaica’s case, this stronger partnership, [and] coordination emerged into what we call the ‘resilient corridor’ by the nature of Jamaica’s tourism.”

Securing the Supply Chain Through Local Connections

In addition to a decrease in tourism, supply chain disruptions have been on the rise throughout the region. Speaking for Jamaica, Holness insists leaders need to “protect the industry and ensure that we are actually able to deliver high-quality service to our guests and to the people who visit our shores.”

“There need to be greater linkages between the tourism sector and the rest of the economy, particularly agriculture,” he said.

Holness added that leaders should ask themselves several key questions to support a healthy supply chain economy.

“How can the industry be the catalyst for the development of the local capacity to supply your needs?” said Holness. “How do we ensure that we keep our supply chains safe? How do we build local redundancy so that we can continue to deliver a high-quality product?”

Looking Forward: Trends and Obstacles in Tourism

Tourism will continue to evolve post-pandemic, and there will be more challenges and opportunities that arise. One such opportunity is sustainability in the tourism industry.

“There is a change in consumer consciousness, and that will affect consumer demand as more consumers incorporate not just monetary value in their consumption decisions, but ethical values, [which] will begin to play an even greater part in their consumption patterns,” Holness explained. “[This] actually build[s] the capacity of the local economy in a more ethical way to provide the goods and services in the supply chain.”

Overall, Holness is optimistic about the future of tourism — and its positive impacts on the American economy.

“I believe that we will have a strong recovery in tourism,” he said. “I believe that the industry is strong enough, wise enough, intelligent enough, learning from the challenges to put in place the measures that will overcome those risks, make us more resilient and ensure that we will have a robust, resilient, and profitable tourism industry.”