PSOJ head: Pursue heritage tourism destination status for Kingston vigorously
President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Howard Mitchell says the establishment of the city of Kingston as a heritage and cultural tourism destination must be pursued vigorously.
This, Mitchell noted, is particularly in light of the recent declaration of reggae by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a global treasure that must be safeguarded.
Addressing the Mediamix Doctor Bird Awards at the Spanish Court Hotel in St Andrew on Tuesday night, Mitchell said the UNESCO designation, coupled with the declaration of Kingston as a Creative City of Music in 2015, means that "Jamaica is now on the radar of the millions of travellers who seek cultural experiences to enrich their lives and are willing to spend large amounts for the privilege.
"We need urgently to map the assets of Kingston, especially the areas of Trench Town, west and central Kingston, including Coronation Market, which is the largest market in the English-speaking Caribbean," Mitchell said.
"You have assets that are human talent and resources. We need to sensitise and empower residents of those areas, who have been captured long in squalor and poverty, to know that they have value; that they have earning power in their food, music, dance and in their culture that if properly organised and directed, can simultaneously enrich and transfer value in a dignified and respectable way to our people by entertaining the world right here," he added.
He said Kingston has a plethora of museums and other landmarks which could, if promoted, naturally boost the city's tourism product and bring large amounts of revenues to the communities, a venture which should be not only led by the Government, but could include other civil society entities and the private sector.
"It would need the concentrated, non-tribalist consensus and efforts of the State and civil society to come together and articulate the vision; to break down the walls of distrust, but it can be done one piece at a time. And think of the potential to reduce violence and crime by giving meaningful activities to captives of a low-wage deathtrap that we have built for ourselves over the years," he said.
While arguing that govern-ment has to divest itself of the responsibility to develop the assets of Jamaica and allow free enterprise, he noted that all of this was possible if the citizens opened their minds to the fact that no nation has become truly developed without being inclusive of its entire people, and that much of the world's progress has come from empowering the poor.
"We are sitting on the vast riches of the culture of the age-old imagination of our people. We are poor because we want to be poor; we are poor because we have leaders who make us poor," he lamented.
Nine members of the creative industries were recognised at the event: Gussie Clarke for music, Evan Williams for architecture, Bill Edwards for fashion, Norma Rodney Harrack for fine arts, L'Antoinette Osun ide Stines for dance, Basil Dawkins for theatre, Ian Randle for pan media (publishing), Mutabaruka for the written word; and Natalie Thompson for film and television.