The question of how to make tourism in Jamaica more sustainable is a timely topic. The sector has provided direct employment to the accommodation sector of 31 227 at end 2005, which has grown steadily from 20,561 in 1990. Besides the direct employment, indirect jobs have been provided to farmers, construction companies as well as the manufacturing sector. Indeed, the labour force employed to the Hotel, Restaurants & Clubs was 287,852 in 2005.1 Similarly, the industry’s supporting sectors, namely transportation, agriculture, electricity and water, manufacturing, construction and the distributive trade together represent over 60.0 per cent of GDP. It is not surprising then that tourism is viewed as one of the most important engines of growth and development in the Jamaican economy. Despite this, Jamaica’s tourism industry faces many significant challenges. Not least of which has been the continued low and declining impact of the industry on the overall economy (McCatty & Serju 2006). This study found that though the expected boom in the industry over the medium term should have noticeable effects, the estimates of the impact multipliers suggested that the contribution of the sector to the wider economy would be below potential. However, one source of this problem is a limited understanding of tourism’s complex dynamics, which stems partly from the absence of comprehensive integrated quantitative frameworks to capture its pervasive social and economic impacts.
The purpose of this paper, in light of the aforementioned, is four-fold. To construct a model of tourism dynamics; apply the model to Jamaica’s tourism market between 1991 and 2005; present scenario type analysis to evaluate the impact of shocks to the industry; and to highlight policy implications arising out of the framework. A review of the evolution of tourism product since the 1990’s provides a background to the assessment of the industry’s prospects over the medium term.
1 The value added of the tourism industry is captured within the Hotels, Restaurants, & Clubs component of the Miscellaneous
Services category in the national accounts. This sub-sector contributes approximately 6.3 per cent directly to the country’s gross domestic product.