Patterson encourages US businessmen to invest in Ja
PRIME Minister P J Patterson on Friday encouraged American businesses and tourism interests to turn their attention again to Jamaica and the wider Caribbean as they recovered from the terrorist attacks of September 11.
Addressing a luncheon of the Jamaican/American Chamber of Commerce in New York, Patterson highlighted Jamaica's progress in transforming the economy into one which facilitated foreign direct investment and sought to increase trade with the United States.
He said that Jamaica, like the United States, had suffered grave economic consequences following the events of September 11, with the fall-off in visitor arrivals and revenue intake being two of the areas that had been most significantly affected.
The prime minister said, however, that the country was still proceeding with its long-term plans for the transformation of the economy, citing such projects as Highway 2000, the North Coast Highway, airport divestment and the redevelopment of the Vernamfield aerodrome in Clarendon.
In the case of Vernamfield, he pointed to the airport's potential, both as an air cargo transshipment facility and as another option for passenger planes.
Its potential for passenger planes would be pursued, he said, to facilitate visitor arrivals in that area, "because another element of the millennium package is the development of the spa at Milk River, which has as high a chemical and mineral content as that which exists in any of the famous spas... in Germany or wherever. We're interested in getting a private entrepreneur who will be involved in that development."
George Patsalos, president of the chamber, said that as American tourists regained their confidence in the travel market, they would look more and more to Jamaica and the wider Caribbean in preference to destinations farther afield.
A return of investor confidence, he said, would redound to Jamaica's benefit as this exposure expands and as the fear and uncertainty recedes. "I feel that the investment levels in the future to the Caribbean and to Jamaica specifically, will in fact see a return to strong development and strong investment," he said.
Patterson's address followed a visit earlier in the day to the site of the World Trade Centre, where the twin towers were destroyed in the September 11 attacks.
And yesterday he was scheduled to attend a memorial service at the Riverside Church in Harlem for Caribbean nationals who perished in the attack.
Eighty-four CARICOM nationals, including 20 Jamaicans, have been listed among the more than 4,000 people missing and presumed dead following the terrorist attacks.