Judges attend tourist harassment sensitisation workshop
Against the backdrop of concerns about increasing harassment in the tourism sector, Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, is now making a strong call for stakeholders to be more attentive in dealing with cultural differences of visitors.
According to the minister at Saturday's tourist harassment sensitisation workshop for parish court judges at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James, cultural differences can negatively impact Brand Jamaica if those at the sector are not aware on 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 welcome for a lot of people, for many others , it is huge turn-off," Bartlett stated.
"Yes, while sometimes what we call harassment is described by some to be warm and friendly, it's a different world out there with 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.
He said that the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) was gearing up to further help the sector in terms of that cultural realignment as a means of mitigating the problem.
About travel advisories warning visitors against certain sections of the country or about the country itself, Bartlett said that it was not so much his job to fight the advisories but rather to swiftly correct the concerns and problems stated.
"People wonder perhaps why I haven't responded to these advisories, but you can't fight that. What you have to do is correct and do what you must do, that is my job," he explained.
Welcoming the opportunity to educate judicial officers to concerns relating to harassment in the tourist industry, Chief Justice Zaila McCalla said the courts must be made aware of the negative impact that can result. She said it could lead to the country's inability to attract investment.
"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," she indicated.