Letter of the Day | Investing in our local resources critical
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I found it very ironic reading an article published in The Gleaner on Wednesday titled 'Jamaican reaping success in tourism sector'. This is since it is Prime Minister Holness' administration that has been considering allowing mining within the Cockpit Country. The article recounts the prime minister's speech at Jamaica Product Exchange, where he expressed how much the tourism sector has grown over the past year.
Let us examine the situation. The tourism sector is highly dependent upon the country's natural environment (sun, sand, and sea). However, it is increasingly seen where tourists who are coming to Jamaica are looking for more than just that: they are looking to explore Jamaica's hills and mountains. From this, the question must be asked: why then would we wish to damage our country's greatest national assets and lose our competitive advantage internationally? This is not only poor environmental planning, it is also destructive economic planning.
What I believe the Government should be doing is investing in this nation's future. This consists of simple measures that have worked before:
1) Invest in and promote the tourism sector to develop and exploit the global tourism demand for cultural tourism, sports tourism, natural tourism, and most critically, business tourism;
2) Encourage the industry to maximise the use of scores of local graduates from major universities who specialise in all aspects of the industry. This includes culinary arts, hotel administration, sports tourism management, business tourism management, and natural resource tourism, just to name a few;
3) Legislate that the raw materials used within the sector for all aspects of the industry is sourced and/or produced locally. This will stimulate growth within the local economy as well as promote innovation and job creation.
It is my sincere belief that Jamaica should move away from just being a country that exports (sugar, bauxite, alumina) its primary economic resources, because these assets are volatile and the returns are minimal. We should start competing globally in high-skilled areas with high profit margins that will utilise the intellectual capacity of young Jamaicans, as opposed to doing damage to sectors that have helped increase the economy.
University of Technology, Jamaica