Jamaican Ambassador Paul Anthony Robotham said Thursday that his top priority job in Tokyo is to attract as many Japanese tourists as possible to his Caribbean nation.

“Tourism is one of Jamaica’s key industries,” he said. “The increase in the number of Japanese visitors to Jamaica would help reduce the chronic bilateral trade imbalance in Japan’s favor.”

During a visit to The Japan Times, Robotham said that only about 6,000 Japanese tourists visited his country last year, down from 30,000 in 1996.

He attributed the decline to such factors as the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome and Japan’s economic setback.

He said Jamaica is the “No. 1 tourist destination in the Caribbean.”

To attract more foreign tourists, Jamaica is promoting the construction of luxury hotels and golf courses, organizing music events and reinforcing various tourist attractions, according to Robotham.

The ambassador said bilateral ties with Japan are “excellent” after 40 years of diplomatic ties.

He said Jamaica supports Japan’s bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. He said this would help push reform of the body forward.