Letter of the day | What did Bartlett do wrong?
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Please allow me space to respond to your editorial dated Saturday, December 31, 2017, 'Will the tourism bubble burst?'
It promised much, but in the end, fell flat. Clearly written as a cautionary response to the headline in both daily newspapers a day earlier, outlining the record number of stopover arrivals (66,886) between December 22 and 28, it was spot on in pointing out the country's growing crime problem and the clear and present danger this poses to tourism.
It was also correct in noting the shortfalls in manufacturing and the less-than-stellar state of the agricultural sector. But in a strange turn, the editorial then proceeded to go after tourism minister, Edmund Bartlett, chastising him for having a penchant "for trotting out glowing figures about occupancy rates and prospects."
Now, I am quite sure the tourism minister is very much capable of defending himself, but I have to say that this was a low blow and represents the kind of tear-down mentality that is all too common in Jamaica.
By any stretch of the imagination, having nearly 70,000 visitors (not counting cruise shipping) entering Jamaica over a six-day period is certainly nothing to scoff at. In fact, both dailies agreed that it was headline-grabbing news and quite rightly gave it the prominence and treatment befitting its magnitude.
Where did Mr Bartlett go wrong? Can we blame him for revelling in what by any standard was a massive accomplishment under his watch? We would be raking him over the coals if, say, six cruise ships were to pull out or several potential investors had a change of heart, resulting from some failure on the part of his ministry.
Mr Bartlett only recently spoke out about the dangers that crime and visitor harassment pose to tourism and the urgent need for those problems to be addressed.
MAIN DRIVER OF GROWTH
Tourism is currently the main driver of economic growth and the one industry that consistently demonstrates a high level of profitability and dependability.
I don't think it serves the purpose of any of us to publicly bring attention to the possibility of "travel advisory warnings from governments concerned about the safety of their citizens which could certainly burst the tourism bubble, wiping the smile off Mr Bartlett's face and place thousands out of work."
I am not sure though that trotting out editorials, predicting that "it will not take long before visitors who arrive by cruise ships and aircraft understand that the tourist Mecca of Montego Bay which offers sand, sea and frolic is also a city with the highest homicide rate in the country" is the answer. We would do well to be careful of exactly what it is that we wish for.