Tue | Feb 18, 2020

Untold Stories of National Awardees | Gourzong's vision: Ja as First-World country

Published:Tuesday | August 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Johnny Gourzong


Montego Bay businessman Johnny Gourzong was virtually stunned when he received word he would be one of the recipients of the Order of Distinction for his work in entertainment and tourism, come National Heroes Day.

"I was very surprised, humbled and honoured. I did not expect it. I really was surprised, to put it mildly," he told The Gleaner.

Nevertheless, he is looking forward to "saddle to the east" to King's House on Monday, October 15, to receive what will be his first national award, the announcement of which, he says, was met with great jubilation by his family and friends from near and far.

"They were very happy. All of them sent congratulations in one form or another, whether on Facebook or WhatsApp, or telephoned or emailed me. So I was kind of overwhelmed, because all of my friends and family in North America seemed to have heard almost immediately. News really travels fast these days. So I was kind of flooded with the responses," Gourzong explained.

"I am still feeling privileged and humbled. I am looking forward to Heroes Day. My daughter and son and three of the grandchildren will be here with me, and my wife, of course."

Gourzong, who operates the Martha Brae River Rafting attraction in Falmouth, became involved in the tourism industry back in 1985 and was a founding member and conceptualiser of the Attraction Associations of Jamaica (AJAL) in the mid-1980s, and for which he served as president for approximately 11 years.




He is a co-founder of the 'world's greatest reggae festival', Reggae Sumfest, and served as executive director of Summerfest Productions from 1993 to 2015. He is a member of the board of trustees of the Doctors Cave Bathing Club and is also a former president of the National Cruise Council and chairman of the River Rafting Authority.

Gourzong said he has the utmost faith in his country, and is optimistic that the nation is on a trajectory to realise its dreams of becoming a First-World nation in fulfilment of Vision 2030, the national plan for sustainable development.

"I am confident that we have the potential, but as a people, we need to regain our civility towards each other and to understand that you have to maintain law and order if you are going to move forward," Gourzong said.

"It is paramount in our progress. But I see a country that will be an outstanding nation in the world. We have the potential; we have shown it in so many different ways."