Mon | Dec 10, 2018

Better understanding needed of cultural differences, says Tourism Minister

Published:Monday | January 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMOkoye Henry/Gleaner Writer
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett flanked by parish court judges at the tourist harassment sensitisation workshop held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Saturday.

Against the backdrop of concerns about increasing harassment in the tourism sector, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett is now making a call for stakeholders to be more attentive in dealing with cultural differences among visitors.

According to Bartlett, cultural differences can negatively impact Brand Jamaica if those in the sector are not aware of how to deal with the millions of diverse people who visit the island each year.

"We (Jamaicans) are a touchy-feely people and while that very warm, nice feeling is very welcomed for a lot of people, for many others it is a huge turn off," stated Bartlett, as he addressed last Saturday's tourist harassment sensitisation workshop for Parish Court judges at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.

"Yes, while sometimes what we call 'harassment' is describe by some to be warm and friendly, it's a different world out there, so (there are) different types of people. We feel that it is a marketing strategy to show how important our goods are, but many visitors regard badgering as being an annoyance," he added.

Bartlett said the Tourism Product Development Company is now gearing up to further help the sector in terms of that cultural realignment as a means of mitigating the problem.

"It is so that people who peddle their wares will recognise that it is not an acceptable thing to everybody to keep throwing your goods at them, as well as to engage them [the sellers] in certain market practices," said Bartlett.

 

... Gov't role to fix concerns, not fight travel warnings, says minister Bartlett

 

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has stated that when it comes to travel advisories warning visitors against certain local areas or the country itself, it is not so much his job to fight the advisories but, rather, to swiftly correct the concerns and problems outlined.

"People wonder, perhaps, why I haven't responded to these advisories or so but you can't fight that. What you have to do is correct and do what you must do, that is my job," he said as he addressed last Saturday's tourist harassment sensitisation workshop for parish court judges, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.

"Our job is to not just recognise the issue of safety and security, and not only to respond to them, but we must leave the world with a feeling that we are doing something about it and that we are winning the battle. If our neighbours, our family and our market feel that this battle is overwhelming then they will not come to us," he added.

 

RESPONSE TO ADVISORY

 

Bartlett was speaking after Thursday's reports of a level-two US advisory warning American citizens, including those living on the island, to avoid sections of Montego Bay and Kingston and not to venture anywhere in Spanish Town, St Catherine.

Welcoming the opportunity to raise the awareness of judicial officers to issues of concern relating to the tourist industry, Chief Justice Zaila McCalla outlined that the courts must have a heightened awareness of the negative impact that can lead to the island's inability to attract foreign investment, thus weakening the economy.

"Our courts are well aware of the importance of our tourist industry, as special provisions are made for dealing with certain cases on Saturdays and Sundays when necessary," McCalla said.

The parish judges present included those assigned to St Ann, St James, Trelawny, Hanover and Westmoreland.