March was the greatest month for tourism in Jamaica’s history and it was mainly driven by the first leg of Buju Banton’s Long Walk to Free Tour. Not only did the island make history in the amount of arriving visitors but Jamaica’s decriminalization of marijuana has seen the country bringing in revenues of historical proportions.
Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says the island welcomed almost a million visitors from January through March with the greatest numbers of visitors coming in March. Buju Banton’s first concert after being released from prison was in mid-March. Bartlett is estimating that Jamaica will get about 5 million visitors in total by the end of 2019.
“March 2019 was the biggest tourism month ever in our history and the year 2019 is trending in a way that is going to break all records.”
Not only is Jamaica seeing a high spike in the number of visitors but the country is also earning more revenue per visitor. This means visitors are spending more taxable money than they ever did in the Jamaica’s history.
The rise in taxable revenue per visitor can be attributed to the decriminalization of marijuana. The fact that visitors can now purchase up to two ounces of weed without running the risk of being arrested has make way for tourist to openly purchase the substance.
Because of the two ounces limit that a person can be caught with without risking going to jail means that Jamaica could have been realizing even more in tourist revenue if marijuana was fully legalized.
Although tourists and tourism revenue is on a sharp rise, most people that work in the tourism sector are not reaping any of the benefits. Hotel workers continue to be paid below living wages despite having to work more hours to accommodate for the sold out hotel rooms.
Taxi drivers and Airbnb operators have benefitted from the tourism rise but that’s a small number compared to the thousands of hotel workers.
Jamaica’s hotel workers do not have a labor union.