Investing in Tourism Jamaica

Jamaica is a world famous tourist destination. Jamaica's natural beauty and rich culture combine with world-renowned hospitality to make Jamaica a unique and diverse product. Jamaica lies 550 miles south of Miami, Florida. It is a mountainous country, with a tropical climate.

In 2007, Jamaica had 1.7 million stop-over visitors, a growth of 1.3% over 2006, and a very substantial 15% growth over Jamaican stop-over arrivals in 2005. Jamaica’s rate of growth in stop-over arrivals between 2006 and 2005 greatly exceeded the growth in world tourism of 4.2% (source: World Tourism Organisation) as well as the negligible growth in Caribbean tourism of 0.1% (source: Caribbean Tourism Organisation) for those years. Current projections of the Ministry of Tourism are that the number of stop-over visitors will reach 5 million by 2012.

In 2007, stop-over visitors from the United States accounted for 67% of total stop-over arrivals, Europeans accounted for 17% and Canada for 11%.

The average length of stay for foreign nationals in 2007 was 11 nights.

The Island currently has 27,000 hotel rooms, but Jamaica’s current popularity and growth is reflected in the fact that by the end of calendar year 2008, another 3,000 rooms will be opened. The Government’s stated intention is to have 40,000 rooms by the year 2012.

The country has strong investor friendly laws, as well as policies and government agencies designed to promote and assist foreign investment. There are no foreign exchange controls and no requirements for local shareholding or local directorships.

Given that tourism is an area targeted for significant growth, the Government of Jamaica provides strong government support for tourism development. The Ministry of Tourism facilitates the development of tourist enterprises, and assists in marketing and promotion of Jamaica as a premier tourist destination. As well, the Tourism Office within the Office of the Prime Minister is an overseer to all the organizations within the industry established to develop a growth path for tourism in Jamaica. The Jamaica Tourist Board coordinates Government assistance and promotion of Jamaica’s tourist product, as well as leading destination marketing and advertising. Jamaica Trade and Invest, Jamaica's Governmental export and investment promotion agency, has a Leisure Industry Department responsible for the promotion, development and facilitation of investments within the tourism sector. The mandate of JAMPRO is support prospective and actual foreign investors in developing and realizing their investment projects.

Jamaica’s Hotel (Incentives) Act allows hotel investors income tax holidays for up to 15 years, as well as duty free entry for materials used in construction and operation of hotels. As to income tax, all corporate profits arising during the concession period are free of tax. Dividends are subject to tax, but the rates are reduced or eliminated under various Double Taxation Treaties to which Jamaica is a party.

Jamaica boasts an attractive pool of English-speaking, educated workers. The Government, through its HEART Academies, trains workers for the hotel and hospitality industry. In addition, with the assistance of the Government of Spain, a School of Hospitality will be opened in 2009, modeled after the School of Hospitality and Tourism

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