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Experts disagree on if BPO industries can surpass tourism

Published:Sunday | November 9, 2014 | 6:09 PMMark Titus

TWO OF Jamaica?s most respected minds in the tourism sector are dismissing the suggestion that the local business process outsourcing (BPO) sector is on the way to employing more workers than tourism.

The assertion was made by Davon Crump, CEO of Global Outsourcing Solutions Limited, a call centre operation located in the Montego Bay Free Zone, who was the keynote speaker at the Montego Bay Community College?s awards ceremony and cocktail function last Thursday.

?With all the rapid changes in technology over the years, we have created many opportunities for economic growth in Jamaica and especially within the Jamaican business sector,? said Crump, the immediate past president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

?Over the last three years, we have seen the upsurge of the BPO sector in our island. It should be noted that the BPO sector is a mass employment sector that has the potential to far surpass the employment opportunities of the tourism sector.?

However, while former hotelier Godfrey Dyer believes the BPO sector will do well, he does not see it getting near to the numbers tourism employs.

?I think the BPO/ICT industry will do well, but I don?t see them getting near to the over 75,000 employed to our industry,? he said. ?The tourism sector can still grow further. So even over a 10-year period, this won?t happen.?

untapped opportunities

Edmund Bartlett, opposition spokesman on tourism, also disagrees with Crump.

?I don?t agree with that view. I really don?t see that happening because the tourism sector has not begun to tap into the employment opportunities available.

?Normally, when one speaks of tourism, persons might only think of accommodation, but there are several subsectors in tourism that will always be looking to take the best from our talent pool.?

The BPO/ICT industry is the fastest-growing sector in Jamaica. It currently holds six per cent of the Caribbean and Latin America market share, with approximately 15,000 jobs, and earns about US$375 million in foreign-exchange revenues.

According to the Oxford Economics study Travel and Tourism as a Driver of Economic Development in Jamaica, dated March 2012, tourism generates a greater share of total employment than GDP, with a direct impact of 9.7 per cent and a total impact of 22.7 per cent of total employment in Jamaica.

Crump was also critical of foreign-owned hotels? preferred use of expatriates in executive positions instead of Jamaicans, but Bartlett said such a decision was ?understandable?.