Tourism honorees lauded

Bartlett pays tribute to tourism's national honorees

Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

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Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says that the industry is on track to beat last year's record 4.3 million visitors and their US$3 billion in spending.

Bartlett told a special luncheon at the Jamaica Pegasus, New Kingston, which followed Monday's National Honours and Awards ceremony at King's House, that the industry has already achieved more than 2.2 million visitors spending over US$2.5 billion this year.

“So we are closing in on the US$3 billion to beat that record which was set last year, and to increase our revenue by 10 per cent of last year. So US$3.3 billion is what we are expecting them to spend this year,' the minister said.

He told the Jamaica Observer after the meeting that the ministry hopes to introduce a pension scheme for the workers by end of year, and also to use the December 15 date, which normally marks the start of the official tourism season, as a benchmark for other activities, to be renamed Tourism Day and used to honour industry giants and partners.

“We want to professionalise the industry and to have our workers trained and certified to the extent that they are capable of working anywhere in the world,” he said.

“The development of the professional tourism worker is something that we are aiming at, and in doing that there has to be a transformation in the labour market system, in terms of the tenure of employment and the benefits that are enjoyed by the workers, and other issues like that,” Bartlett added.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who made a brief appearance, also lauded the honorees and remarked that the honours were Jamaica's system for inspiring its citizens to greater performance.

“My job is to express gratitude for the service you have given, on behalf of a grateful nation,” Holness said.

The revelations were indeed timely, as the event was hosted by the ministry to pay tribute to 10 persons directly involved in the industry, as well as people he referred to as partners and who have helped in their own way to encourage its growth and development, including world-renowned entertainer Grace Jones and US Congresswoman Yvette Clarke whose Jamaican mother, Una Clarke, was also present at the function.

Bartlett noted that the industry had an awardee in every category of the National Honours and Awards, including hotelier Godfrey Dyer, who received Jamaica's fifth-highest honour, the Order of Jamaica (OJ), which also entitles the recipient to be referred to as 'The Honourable'.

Other honorees were: the permanent secretary in the ministry, Jennifer Griffith, who received the Order or Distinction commander class (CD); John Gilbert Byles; co-founder of Reggae Sumfest John “Johnny” Gourzong; hotelier Ruth Hussey; and George Grainger Weston, who were also honoured with the Order of Distinction (Officer).

Overseas marketers and tour operators William “Bill” La Macchia and John Mullen, received honorary ODs. Michael Sylvester Young received the Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service to the industry for over 51 years as a red cap porter, and Renvil Nicholson received the Badge of Honour for Long and Faithful Service to the industry.

The tributes were also extended to the “friends and partners” of the industry including Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange; Mayor of Montego Bay Councillor Homer Davis, and both Jones and Clarke for being ambassadors of the industry outside of Jamaica.

A number of Government officials including Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pearnel Charles, President of the Senate, Senator Thomas Tavares Finson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Smith and Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck also attended.

“We are a series of moving parts that must come together seamlessly to create the experience that the world pays for, and they do,” the minister commented.

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