Tue | Oct 23, 2018

Lock in tourists and save industry

Published:Saturday | December 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Secretary general, UN World Tourism Organization, Taleb Rifai.


Talib Rifai, secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, in a passionate speech to stakeholders poured scorn on what he described as "modern-day plantations called exclusive resorts". At the two-day Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth, he warned against the practice of "... building five-star resorts in three-star communities where citizens are not part of the transformation".

I agree. Sort of.

Some time ago, my sister, who lived in Africa, could not understand why I was dead set against her sending her children to vacation in Jamaica. It's just that when my closest neighbour's helper and my gardener are murdered days apart, it makes one start to think. Especially when, that year, 1,674 persons were murdered. That works out to 58 per 100,000 - the highest in the world.

Then browsing through the Internet, one sees advisories like, 'Is it safe to travel in Montego Bay?': "Safety in numbers after dark." "You're advised to ... avoid wandering around alone at night in Ochos (sic) Rios, Montego Bay and Negril ... . Better be safe than sorry."

After reading all of this, you may be concerned that Jamaica is too unsafe of a place to visit. That website then gives eight travel destinations in the Caribbean that they say are "safe".

Mr Rifai added that "... the opportunities in tourism should carry the end result of inclusive economic growth ... the distribution of wealth, and shared prosperity ...". One hotelier told me that the industry would love to buy more local goods but "... no one and no group has enough to be a consistent supplier ... ."

Mr Rifai is right in all that he is suggesting. But our hoteliers are bright enough to know that setting unsuspecting visitors loose in our present social environment is the surest and quickest way to kill this industry. Lock them een, guys!