Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Tourism bigger than politics, says Bartlett - launches Destination Assurance Councils to replace possibly politically constructed boards

Published:Saturday | June 3, 2017 | 6:00 AM
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett (right); Chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund, Godfrey Dyer (centre); and Senior Director, Technical Services, in the Ministry of Tourism, David Dobson, are deep in conversation ahead of the launch of the Destination Assurance Councils at the Eden Gardens Wellness Resort and Spa in Kingston.

Concerned that the resort boards may have been politically constructed, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says that they are in danger of becoming obsolete.

According to Bartlett, the new Destination Assurance Councils (DACs), which he launched on Tuesday, represent the dawn of a new era in tourism.

"We can't use politics to run tourism," the minister declared. "Tourism is about competence and integrity ... . It is about ensuring that your visitors get value for money and have the opportunity to experience everything you told them they would be getting prior to buying their tickets."

The councils will represent the six resort areas, including Kingston and Trelawny, a composition Bartlett says is in line with what is required for the sector to meet all its projections going forward.

"The Destination Councils are the guardians of the integrity of the resorts," he continued. "The local community must own the experiences and protect the safety, security, and seamless vacation the visitors buy."

He further pointed out that it was within this context that the councils were formed, and they would, therefore, reflect the structure of the governance and technical infrastructure required to achieve that result.

The DACs, he said, would be tasked with ensuring that the quality, standards, and integrity of Jamaica's tourism product are maintained. They will also replace the Resort Boards as the bona fide bodies, empowered to identify the needs of the industry and monitor the progress of developmental initiatives in the resort areas.

"This is in keeping with efforts to ensure that Jamaica provides the attractive and secure tourism product that is marketed to its visitors," the minister added.

A game changer in sustainable tourism

"This is a one-stop location where providers of tourism services can relate to ensure compliance of regulatory standards and quality requirements for licensing and certification in the industry. This is a game changer in defining inclusive development and sustainable tourism."

Bartlett also called on the DACs to play their part in ensuring that "we create such a lasting impression that doesn't leave them second-guessing the quality of the destination".

He further pointed out that tourism had come a long way and it now has the potential to be a net user of foreign exchange and to drive economic growth exponentially as it is doing in other Caribbean countries like the Dominican Republic.

The chairpersons for each region are Elaine Bradley for Negril; Dennis Morgan, Montego Bay; Giovanni Philibert, Falmouth; Karen Rhone, St Ann and St Mary; Errol Hanna, Portland and St Thomas; and Nari Williams-Singh, who will chair the Kingston and the south coast council.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com