Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Gay tourism potential?

Published:Tuesday | June 30, 2015 | 12:00 AM


With the recent landmark ruling of the United States Supreme Court further entrenching the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, this time giving same-sex couples the lawful right to marry, is Jamaica prepared for the spillover effects of this move? Jamaica has long been viewed as probably one of the most homophobic countries in the world, even though this is far from the truth. However, should the discussions about the possible benefits to our tourism sector begin?

Nobody can argue with the fact that the spending power of same-sex couples is most times much stronger than that of heterosexual couples. With this new wave of change that will hit the US, honeymoons and family vacations will now feel more like a right to same-sex couples, and Jamaica is in a perfect location to benefit from this.

Jamaica has the perfect package - sun, sea, sand, culture, entertainment - that can truly resonate with vacationers. But are we prepared for this new type of tourism? Are hotel workers ready and willing to serve two ladies in love? Or two men who have recently tied the knot? Are our police officers prepared to protect possible same-sex tourists who may become victims of discrimination in our tourism areas? And the biggest question of all, is our Government prepared to stand by our product - Jamaica - as one that is open for all to enjoy?

There can be no pussyfooting around the issue; we must face it.

I think the Ministry of Tourism needs to take a very in-depth look at the potential for Jamaica, and not wait until after other Caribbean islands has started and are benefiting. Lest we get the leftovers, as with the ganja movement.

Hotels need to start training their team members about cultural diversity as do schools certifying hospitality workers. Same-sex couples will want to experience Jamaica. It's better we be prepared than act obliviously to what's going to happen because people now feel more entitled to travel with their legal partner.


Ocho Rios, St Ann