Kingston, Jamaica – A special delegation from the United States, led by Ambassador Rena Bitter, the US State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, alongside His Excellency Nick Perry, US Ambassador to Jamaica, and Sara Minkara, Special Advisor on International Disability Rights, held high-level discussions with Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett as they explored accessible tourism opportunities in the post-COVID-19 era.
The delegation paid a courtesy call on Minister Bartlett, at his New Kingston offices Wednesday (January 17). The session saw a vibrant discussion on how the country can capitalize on the prospects for growth in inclusive and accessible tourism. Ambassador Bitter commended Jamaica’s strides in this area, citing the significant legislative progress that was made with the Disabilities Act coming into effect in 2022. Minister Bartlett reiterated the importance of catering to this market segment, emphasising that it holds the potential not only to create opportunities for small hoteliers but also to contribute significantly to the diversification of Jamaica’s tourism product.
In this regard, Minister Bartlett said: “Promoting inclusive and accessible tourism is not just about fulfilling a moral obligation; it is a strategic move for Jamaica. This market presents us with a unique opportunity to achieve our ambitious targets for visitor arrivals and tourism earnings. Strengthening partnerships with the United States, especially in areas related to accessible tourism, will help us create a more diverse and welcoming destination for all.”
Travellers with Disabilities
Highlighting the considerable spending power of travellers with disabilities, Ms. Minkara stressed the need for serious consideration of disabled individuals’ needs in the development of the Ministry’s Destination Assurance Framework and Strategy (DAFS).
Minister Bartlett also acknowledged the vital role of the United States as a source market, with 73% of stopover visitors to Jamaica originating from the US. The tourism minister added that in 2023 alone, approximately 2.1 million Americans visited Jamaica as stopover visitors, underscoring the significance of the bilateral relationship between both countries.
The meeting, attended by representatives from the US Embassy and the Ministry, provided an opportunity for Minister Bartlett to present signed copies of his recently launched book, “Thought Leadership on Tourism, Resilience and Sustainability in the 21st Century“.