KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Portia Simpson Miller, Jamaica's minister of
tourism and sports for the past year, is quite clear as to what she
"I want to reposition Jamaica as the No. 1 destination in the
Caribbean," Miller said.
Preliminary tourism numbers for 2000 indicate that Jamaica is on
its way to meeting that goal.
"Cruise passenger figures increased 18% last year," Miller said.
"We now have seven hotels that are Green Globe-certified, meaning
each meets strict environmental and ecological requirements."
Overall visitors last year totaled 2.2 million, up 5.6% over the
Miller is blunt on certain issues affecting Jamaica.
"We are aggressively pursuing an antiviolence campaign in
Jamaica," Miller said.
"Crimes of any kind have a ripple effect on tourism and our
She is promoting the importance of tourism to communities all
"We need to get our own people more involved in tourism," Miller
At the same time, she said she hopes to exploit and expose "the
hidden treasures of our country. Visitors want diversification and
are no longer content with just sun, sand and sea."
Another goal is to reposition the capital of Kingston as a prime
Miller said that more leisure travelers are visiting
"People who live in Kingston are now more aware of the value and
importance of tourism," she said.
The Jamaican Travel Specialist program is high on Miller's
"I want to increase the number of fam trips offered on the
program as well as the number of agent incentives," Miller
Increasing the awareness of the Insiders program for small
hotels also is a key goal for the minister.
Currently, 60 properties are in the program. "It is a challenge
to sell small hotels, but they represent the backbone and heart of
our country," Miller said. "It is important that our visitors have
the opportunity to experience a stay in a small property."