Devon Dick | Tourism's resilience
Tourism reflects the Jamaican spirit of resilience. Tourism continues to grow every year. Ed Bartlett, knowledgeable Minister of Tourism, outlines the improvements within the industry and offers a vision of where he would like to see the sector going. With Bartlett, one senses that he has done his research on tourism, knows the policy and plans for the sector. Furthermore, he and his team are committed to an integrated product and benefits for the workers and the society.
That tourism continues to grow in spite of a State of Public Emergency in St James, the tourism capital of Jamaica, is truly remarkable. The conventional wisdom is that a State of Emergency would adversely affect the tourism product. However, tourism has ridden the storm.
During the state of emergency, I stayed at Sea Garden Hotel on Kent Drive in St James. Sea Garden, a delightful property, was the place for my informal survey. Four foreign tourists from Canada and the USA were asked about the effect of the State of Emergency on their plans to visit. None of them even heard about the State of Emergency. Furthermore staff whether management or ordinary workers had no complaints about the State of Emergency. The workers all said they knew where the check points were. Tourism is resilient.
There are hot spots like Israel and Egypt where tourism flourishes in spite of serious conflicts and as you travel it is not uncommon to see soldiers with guns at various points. Jamaica has now successful implemented a State of Emergency without having a negative impact on tourism.
The resilience displayed in tourism can be seen in the economy with the Moody rating agency upgrading Jamaica's outlook. Jamaica has serious socio-economic problems and has suffered many shocks, but the people are resilient and there are fruits of growth.
Jamaica is showing resilience similar to its major trading partner and largest economy in the world, the USA. Under Donald Trump, president of the USA, the country has shown the best growth in four years. Not many persons expected that sort of growth under Trump. USA and Jamaica are linked economically and that both countries are showing resilience augurs well for the future.
This resilience should not be taken for granted but should be further harnessed to benefit of the community and the common good. The still-too-high number of killings, the road rage, the coarseness in discourse, the systemic corruption and inequitable access to resources and opportunities must be confronted so that Jamaicans can live in peace and prosperity. Jamaicans ought to reaffirm our commitment to treating each other with civility.
Being civil is showing or giving respect and honour to every citizen. Civility is the respect, the honour due and accorded by a Jamaican to a fellow human being for being a fellow-human, made in the image of God. This is irrespective of achievements and attainments and also in spite of failures and disappointment. Everybody must be respected.
Maintaining civility is the sign of a truly responsible, maturing and mature society. Maintaining civility is due to every Jamaican whether in prison or free, without exception. In the words of the National Anthem, 'teach us true respect for all'.
For Jamaica to make the next step to flourish as a people we need to be civil to everyone. In the tourism industry the workers are civil to tourists, no wonder tourism is so resilient. Let that civility be a hallmark in how we relate to each other so that the resilience can lead to a better Jamaica.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.