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US Ambassador's speech to the JHTA, June 2

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  • Potter at Island Resources
    [This forwarded by Franklin McDonald of Jamaica no comment bp] ... -- Island Resources, the Virgin Islands and Washington For fastest mail service: 1718 P St
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 4, 2002
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      [This forwarded by Franklin McDonald of Jamaica

      no comment


      >From: "Franklin McDonald" <fmcdonald@...>
      >Subject: Fw: US Ambassador's speech to the JHTA, June 2
      >Date: Tue, 4 Jun 2002 13:19:01 -0500
      >Organization: National Environment & Planning Agency
      >----- Original Message -----
      >From: <mailto:ECLKGN@...>Lewis, Emma C
      >To: <mailto:LewisEC@...>Lewis, Emma
      >Sent: Tuesday, June 04, 2002 11:35 AM
      >Subject: US Ambassador's speech to the JHTA, June 2
      >As delivered
      >TO THE
      >JUNE 1, 2002
      >Thank you for that warm welcome. It is an honor to be here with you
      >and of course it is always a pleasure to be in Montego Bay. My predecessors
      >took full advantage of Jamaica's tourism product during their tenures. I
      >hope to as well. Unlike many of them, I come here not only as the U.S.
      >Ambassador, but in some respects as one of you.
      >For many years, my husband, former U.S. Ambassador Charles Cobb, and I have
      >been investors, developers, and operators in the tourism sector. Among the
      >properties our companies have owned or operated were the Boca Raton Hotel
      >and Club, Sawgrass (including the TPA golf course), Longboat Key in
      >Sarasota, and several other high-end golf or ski resort communities. Our
      >major vehicle of the '70's and '80's, Arvida Corporation, was sold to the
      >Walt Disney Company and my husband became a director of Disney, where he was
      >charged with oversight of Disney's real estate and resort properties
      >worldwide. We had the opportunity to participate in the planning and
      >development of Disney's resorts in Tokyo and Paris. Another corporate
      >vehicle, Cobb Partners (of which I can no longer - in this job - be an
      >officer or director) owns the Durango Mountain Resort, including the
      >Purgatory Ski Resort in Colorado, the Kirkwood Ski Resort near Lake Tahoe in
      >California, and various other commercial and real properties in Colorado,
      >California, and Florida - all states that are of course heavily influenced
      >by tourism. During the years in which my husband was serving as U.S.
      >Ambassador, and earlier when he was head of United States Travel and
      >Tourism, I was the Chief Executive Officer of all Cobb Partners business
      >operations, including the resort companies.
      >This does not mean that I am an expert in your business, or even the
      >components of your business, but I've certainly had a great deal of exposure
      >to the complexities and demands of the business of tourism and resort
      >Now -- For 41 years, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association has been
      >leading the charge for Jamaica's private sector. I am very impressed by
      >your important work promoting the development of the hospitality industry
      >and tourism in Jamaica.
      >We at the U.S. Embassy see the JHTA as a partner in our efforts to
      >help bring economic development and sustained growth to Jamaica. A strong,
      >stable, and prosperous Jamaica is a key United States objective that guides
      >all of my work here.
      >The US$ 1.3 billion per year Jamaican tourism industry, which accounts for
      >one fifth of the country's GDP, is the undisputed locomotive of the economy.
      >Jamaica is the fifth most popular tourist destination in the
      >Caribbean region that enjoyed 5.5% annual growth throughout the 1990s. U.S.
      >visitors dominate the Jamaican market. 70 percent of stopovers in Jamaica
      >come from the United States. While Germans, Spaniards, and Frenchmen are
      >increasingly choosing to visit Cuba or the Dominican Republic, many North
      >American tourists continue to favor Jamaica. However, we all know there are
      >some real challenges ahead.
      >Crime, environmental degradation, and regulatory burdens are some of
      >these challenges. Stiff competition from other destinations coupled with
      >blasé attitudes about marketing and advertisement threaten to erode
      >Jamaica's prominence.
      >Of course, I know that there's been a lot of discussion lately about correct
      >budget levels for advertising. The last thing I would want is to get in the
      >middle of any spat between my good friends Butch Stewart, Fay Pickersgill,
      >and Minister Simpson-Miller, so I won't be going there tonight! But it is
      >obvious that getting the word out about Jamaica's uncommon natural beauty,
      >delightful climate, and hidden treasures is extremely important to you and
      >your country.
      >Marketing, however, is only part of the picture in my judgment. To be
      >continuously successful, transportation system and related infrastructure
      >must be world class. Regulatory and tariff regimes must encourage
      >modernization and investment. Investment regimes must be transparent and
      >fair. Civil aviation needs to be encouraged. The island's fragile
      >eco-systems must be protected. And of course, Jamaica's nagging crime
      >problems must be successfully addressed.
      >I know the crime image troubles you. I have seen the PriceWaterouseCoopers
      >study that showed crime and harassment are Jamaican hoteliers' number one
      >concern. You have told me personally. I have witnessed, through JHTA's
      >Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) membership and, through your
      >individual efforts, attempts to address crime, its root causes, and
      >ancillary effects.
      >My number one priority as Ambassador is the protection and safety of all
      >Americans on the island and of the 800 thousand-plus U.S. tourists who visit
      >Jamaica each year -- I am encouraged by your commitment to fight criminal
      >elements. I applaud these efforts and I offer my offices to support your
      >efforts along these lines.
      >United States efforts to help Jamaica bolster its border security and law
      >enforcement can lend a hand. We are working with the Port Authority to
      >enhance monitoring and security not only at the cargo and container ports in
      >Kingston and Montego Bay, but also at the island's cruise ship terminals.
      >Increased airport and airline security measures will prevent air piracy,
      >help stop the flow of drugs and weapons, and keep undesirables out of
      >Jamaica. I must say that Jamaica-U.S. cooperation in this area has been
      >Together, we have set as a priority goal the facilitation of travel between
      >our countries. A system of immigration controls that disrupts illicit
      >migration, but maintains the healthy flow of business travelers, tourists,
      >and family visitors between our countries. This is the balance that we seek
      >to reach. We look forward to working with you and the Government of Jamaica
      >in this important area.
      >I must tell you frankly, if I were in your shoes, one of the things I'd be
      >worrying about is the comparatively high airfares between the United States
      >and Jamaica. We are 70 percent of your market. Competition among more
      >airlines, on more routes, would force the price of a ticket from North
      >America to Montego Bay down dramatically. Liberalization of air traffic
      >between Europe and the United States brought significantly lower fares. In
      >fact, American tourists can fly to France or Germany for half the cost of
      >flying to Jamaica - and they often do. During the off-season, a couple
      >flying from Boston to Jamaica can pay over $400 per ticket round-trip.
      >Transatlantic flights for just over $200 per person are quite common.
      >Therefore, in my judgment, Jamaica should begin discussions of an Open Skies
      >civil aviation agreement with the United States. Such and accord would
      >afford Air Jamaica unfettered access to airports in all 50 states. Air
      >Jamaica can compete. I take pride (and so should you) in noting that Air
      >Jamaica was the first foreign airline allowed to fly into Miami
      >International following the tragic events of September 11. With more Air
      >Jamaica, American Airlines, and other carriers' planes arriving from more
      >cities - with more people - than ever before, competition would naturally
      >drives prices down; and, I believe, entice more Americans to make the very
      >easy trip from the States to Jamaica.
      >As you know, tourism generates foreign exchange and creates jobs, but as the
      >delegates to the UN small island developing states meeting in Montego Bay
      >last month pointed out, tourism can also strain a country's natural
      >resources and its environment. That is why ecologically sound,
      >environmentally sensitive tourism practices are vital to both increasing the
      >island's appeal to visitors and to the sustainability of the sector. I'm
      >sure you know that over 80 percent of the coral reefs in Negril and Montego
      >Bay are damaged. Many of your beautiful beaches are eroding. Sport fishing
      >has been dramatically reduced. Reports of water quality degradation in the
      >rivers and on the coasts and deforestation in the Blue Mountains and in
      >Cockpit country, are disturbing signs. This is an area where the private
      >sector, the government, and your bilateral partners all need to help.
      >Although my background is, in part, as a "developer," or perhaps because of
      >that - I do consider myself an environmentalist, in what I would like to
      >think is an even-keeled sense. Our companies always recognized the need to
      >achieve a fine balance between growth and development that satisfies
      >community needs and protection of non-replenishable natural resources,
      >specifically because they competed with other naturally beautiful, safe, and
      >health-friendly destination resorts - as yours do. Environmentalism is an
      >asset in our business. Consumers also understand the importance of
      >protecting natural resources. In fact, if you do not protect your natural
      >assets, tourists will not come.
      >Jamaican tourism has gone through enormous changes over the past 50 years.
      >In the 1940s and 50s, movie stars and moguls made Jamaica their favorite
      >playground. But as word of Jamaica's charms got out, the number of tourists
      >increased. Cruise ships began making stops; package deals were introduced.
      >The 1960's and '70's brought democratization of the product, which meant
      >that the private villas gave way to major investments in big hotels and
      >tourism infrastructure. In the late '70's, political violence rocked the
      >island, and Jamaica tourism evolved again. Self-contained and secure
      >"all-inclusive" resorts became the model. The 1990's then brought lower-end
      >tourism -- European backpackers and American spring breakers on tight
      >budgets made up a larger portion of Jamaica's tourists. Cruise ships became
      >an even more integral part of the tourism picture. And in the last few
      >years another evolutionary wave has taken hold - expensive and exclusive
      >"non-inclusive" resorts and villa complexes that cater to a new generation
      >of rich and famous. One example of this model is right next door -- the
      >fabulous Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall, created by an American family who have had
      >a long love affair with Jamaica. I don't know the exact numbers, but I
      >would estimate that in just the last few years the Rollins family has
      >brought US$ 150 million of investment to the Montego Bay area, resulting in
      >a waterfall of residual and positive tangential effects. Chris Blackwell's
      >Island Outpost properties are world-renowned. There are other interesting,
      >non-inclusive options like Bluefields and, of course, Round Hill, which
      >offer diverse and appealing escapes.
      >Along with the variety of hotel offerings on the North Coast, Jamaican golf
      >has improved dramatically and probably deserves additional collaborative
      >efforts and strategic marketing to capitalize on the many good courses.
      >There won't be many more built. (It costs about US$500,000 per hole, per
      >golf course.) Golf deserves additional marketing. Golfers like variety and
      >they don't particularly like to cross time zones to find it.
      >The continuing evolution in tourism will not stop. A new generation of
      >tourists is now looking for something a little different - and they do have
      >some money to spend. Sand, sea and sun still appeal, but historic and
      >cultural tourism are in. Eco-tourism (it is UN International Ecotourism
      >Year) and adventure tours (it is the UN International Year of the Mountain)
      >are gaining popularity. My family and most of our friends are practitioners
      >of these new kinds of tourism, especially when combined with fascinating
      >culture and unique history lessons. Jamaica has a tremendous amount to
      >offer in this respect.
      >But which tourists to really target is of critical importance. I hear a lot
      >about the cruise ships. While the new mega-ships can bring three, four, or
      >even five thousand tourists with each landfall, these tourists stay for just
      >a few hours and you know they spend little. Those who stay overnight - and
      >preferably for several nights - are obviously more desirable. Keep in mind
      >rule of thumb that every dollar spent on an export (and tourism is clearly
      >an export) creates seven to eight dollars by the economic multiplier effect
      >in the local economy. The longer people stay, and the more things there are
      >for them to do, the more value is added in the local community.
      >Let's look at a couple in their thirties (a demographic that includes about
      >half of all stopover tourists in Jamaica). They will likely stay for a week
      >or more in one your resorts. They'll spend several thousand dollars on
      >their vacation. They are likely to come back - perhaps four, five or six
      >times in their lifetimes, spending thousands more. The cruise ship
      >passenger - a retiree on his or her once or twice in a lifetime trip - and
      >will typically, in their lifetime, spend less than one hundred dollars in
      >Jamaica. Of course it is imperative that the cruise ship visitor have a
      >positive experience on their one-day visit in Jamaica - or you run the risk
      >of having 3,000 to 5,000 spokespersons making negative comments.
      >So, it certainly seems to me that renewed emphasis should be placed on
      >wooing wealthier, longer-term guests. I also believe that you and your
      >government leaders should think long and hard about vacation and retirement
      >homebuyers who will have a lifetime commitment to return, and who will
      >likely spend upwards of a million dollars during their lifetime of trips to
      >Jamaica. They will bring family and friends, who tend to bring additional
      >people who spend additional money. They become infatuated with Jamaica and
      >will be your proud spokespersons wherever in the world they come from. It
      >is entirely possible to create strong and favorable "word of mouth"
      >advertising through getting these foreigners to literally "buy into"
      >Now I recognize this will not be easy. Recent discussions with U.S.
      >investors, exporters, and service providers, as well as with local Jamaican
      >businessmen (without revealing any names) have brought some real concerns to
      >my attention.
      >Let me share just a few of these with you, that have ramifications for the
      >tourism industry. I understand that the government [of Jamaica] has begun
      >applying certain import safeguards. Officials enforce certain duties that
      >don't seem to us to make much sense. And there is a trend to restricting
      >imports - using labeling and health standard arguments. These reduce your
      >ability to compare international and domestic suppliers and to access the
      >highest quality, lowest cost supplies. In short, they affect your ability
      >to be competitive.
      >Cookies, cakes, and breads are treated as dairy products and require special
      >veterinary certificates. Imported wines of all kinds have a 100% duty. In
      >my judgment, the wine duty is an example of a counterproductive and
      >self-defeating approach to revenue generation and to the expansion of a
      >vibrant, free-spending tourism environment.
      >Let me explain what I mean. An acceptable bottle of wine purchased by a
      >hotel may cost US$10. With a 100% duty, plus a nominal profit added - say,
      >100% added on to cover the cost of doing business - that bottle must sell at
      >your place of business for at least US$ 30 -- probably understandable and
      >acceptable to most tourists. But if you want to attract the folks who
      >actually like to spend their money on such luxury items, you have a distinct
      >problem. A US$50 bottle of wine becomes a US$150 bottle in your restaurant
      >- and that is not an exceptional bottle of wine by world standards. An
      >US$80 bottle (a fine but not extraordinary wine) could cost between US$ 200
      >and US$ 250! In which case most people would think they're being ripped
      >off. Why not suggest a standard duty -- across the wine spectrum - of US$10
      >per bottle charge? The government would receive no less - and probably more
      >- in revenue. You will sell more; you would meet the standards of your
      >international guests; and such little things will help you have satisfied
      >guests and repeat customers.
      >If you believe that longer-term visitors are desirable and that vacation and
      >second home and retirement homeowners bring the most money into the economy,
      >there's another area where private sector input might provide useful
      >guidance to government officials. Developers, I have learned, are very put
      >off by cumbersome and opaque real estate transfer policies and regulations.
      >Despite JAMPRO's best efforts, investors have difficulty obtaining proper
      >licenses and government approvals in a timely fashion. This has a hugely
      >dampening effect on vacation and retirement home buyers. I think that the
      >private sector needs to encourage local and national government agencies to
      >strive for efficient, fast, and fair procedures to ensure much needed
      >future investment from your highest value-added prospects. So these are
      >some of my thoughts.
      >While I know that your industry is enduring some post-traumatic stress
      >symptoms and I know that the last few weeks certainly have not been good,
      >Jamaican tourism is a relatively healthy industry. There are new and
      >exciting developments in world tourism, and -- with all sectors working
      >together -- new opportunities for Jamaican tourism.
      >You are still just a short flight away from one of the world's largest,
      >richest, and most mobile markets. And Americans love to visit here. You
      >are experienced, creative, and resilient. My team and I look forward to
      >working with the JHTA as the evolution continues and you chart a course for
      >continued growth in this vital Jamaican sector.
      >Thank you.
      >Emma Lewis
      >Public Affairs Associate
      >Office of Public Affairs
      >U.S. Embassy
      >First Floor, Mutual Life Building South Tower
      >2 Oxford Road
      >Kingston 5
      >Tel: (876) 935-6009 (direct); 935-6053/4 extension 3009; Fax: (876) 929-3637
      >Email: <mailto:lewisec@...>lewisec@...
      > <mailto:eclkgn@...>eclkgn@...
      >Please visit our website at:
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