Director of tourism advocates for balance in the news
Noting that he was not advocating to censor or change the way news is reported, Jamaica’s Director of Tourism Donovan White says he is making the case that in finding truth, fact and accuracy, the word ‘balance’ is worth pursuing aggressively.
The tourism director, who presented to the recently held Press Association of Jamaica public forum on the theme ‘Is the News Too Negative’, used the occasion to shed light on the impact of the news on the island’s tourism sector.
Commenting on the Jamaican reality, White highlighted the critical role that tourism plays as Jamaica’s leading industry and a major economic earner, contributing nine per cent to the island’s gross domestic product, and as the second-largest employer. “Tourism supports the continued development of health, education, infrastructural development, manufacturing sectors, among others; and as much as we understand the importance of news, and delivering news that is factual, true and accurate, there ought to be a case for presenting balanced content.”
The tourism director also spoke of the benefits of the news to the destination when he said, “At the Jamaica Tourist Board, we are happy that our stories are part of the content that is consumed by your audiences – from launches to broadcasting our growth, to heralding new partnerships, and to our successes in the international marketplace.”
Returning to the impact of negative news on the destination, White referred to the possible adverse repercussions on the image of the island, and, by extension, on arrival figures. This, he said, sometimes dissuade travellers from choosing Jamaica as their vacation destination.
White continued, “With today’s technology, a story told in Jamaica will have global impact and will be replicated in the international space and across other platforms as ‘validated news from Jamaica’”.
As a strategic position, the tourism director maintains that the Jamaica Tourist Board’s approach has been a proactive one, to stand up and face the media questions and provide reliable information. Through engaging their publics and communities with more interactions, the Jamaica Tourist Board helps to shape the lens through which the news is interpreted.
Citing that the destination enjoys a 42 per cent return guest rate, White theorises that there are still some really great opportunities to tell truly positive stories. “We are so much more than what is currently in the news,” he concluded.