Tourist Board chairman wants more investment in Montego Bay
The business community in Montego Bay has been challenged to invest in the resort city to rescue it from decline.
Throwing out the challenge, Jamaica Tourist Board Chairman Dennis Morrison said: "Investment opportunities are staring us in the face. Let us take, for instance, the present condition of what was once a vibrant area of commerce, the Hip Strip; it is disheartening and disappointing to see the closed shutters on hotels and other tourism-related businesses on the Hip Strip."
Reiterating that the investment climate was positive, he emphasised that "there is no excuse, and we should not wait for foreign investors to come in and then complain about their presence, which is what we tend to do."
Morrison was delivering the keynote address during Tuesday's launch of the second annual MoBay City Run, which provides financial assistance to young people to pursue tertiary education.
threat of migration
Pointing to the need for employment opportunities for young people who have achieved their goals of higher education, the JTB chairman said that if they could not find what they wanted in the Second City, they would be forced to seek it in the already overcrowded capital city of Kingston "or worse, to migrate".
He underscored, however, that such opportunities would only open up further when the leaders, including members of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, invest in the continued development of the city.
"So you invest in tertiary and higher education, but you need to take the other step of increasing your involvement in the city in terms of economic activity and invest; expanding production in the city and creating jobs," said Morrison.
Reinforcing his challenge, the JTB chairman called upon the Chamber and the private sector leaders to recognise "that much, much, more needs to be done and can be done". He explained that the investment climate was right with the economy stabilising and government facilitating investment through tax reform that provided encouragement "not just to the well connected (but) to people who have never had access to benefits for small hotels and attractions".
He also stated that financial institutions were lending for tourism projects, even to foreign investors, while Jamaicans were keeping their capital idle.
He noted that a ready market existed for tourism businesses, pointing out that "for this winter tourist season, nearly every hotel is full and our average daily rates are high. So there's much more we can do."