McNeill urges Bartlett to meet with traders
Opposition spokesperson on Tourism Dr Wykeham McNeill is urging portfolio minister Edmund Bartlett to convene a meeting with craft traders and producers to hear their concerns and avoid disruption in the sector.
More than 20 representatives of craft shops from Negril, Montego Bay, Falmouth and Ocho Rios summoned McNeill to an emergency meeting in Ocho Rios on Monday and urged him to speak on their behalf after failing repeatedly to get meaningful dialogue with Bartlett to address their concerns.
The craft traders said that despite continuing reports of massive increases in visitor arrival figures, the craft sector continued to suffer as those involved in the trade were not benefiting from whatever increase there may be.
They made it plain that without any meaningful dialogue with the minister, they will have to resort to protests.
Melody Haughton Adams, president of the Jamaica Craft Traders and Producers Association (JCTPA), told the meeting that the island's craft traders have been suffering for too long.
"We're hearing that arrivals are up, yet the craft markets are empty," Haughton Adams pointed out.
She said that there was serious concern that craft traders and producers were being pushed aside. She said that at a meeting some time ago with Bartlett, they were given just one hour to discuss matters and the meeting ended without any headway being made.
The overriding concern is the continuing absence of tourists in the markets, even as other grave matters persist.
Despite the militant mood that existed at the meeting, Devon Mitchell of the Dunn's River Craft Market and vice-president of the JCTPA, said that the meeting was called to see how best the situation could be amicably resolved.
After listening to the concerns, McNeill, a former tourism minister under the previous People's National Party administration, said that it was important that Bartlett meet with the craft traders.
McNeill said that when he spoke in Parliament two weeks ago, he urged Bartlett to consult with the craft traders as they are hurting.