We’re happy to invest in the health of the people – TEF boss
Dr Carey Wallace, chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), says the organisation’s decision to fund the rehabilitation and expansion of the Black River Health Centre in St Elizabeth was taken out of recognition that with the people being the nation’s greatest asset, having a healthy population must be of paramount importance.
“You may ask the question, ‘Why is tourism investing in health in a project like this, where over $11 million was spent?’” said Wallace. “It is because the people of the country are our number-one asset in tourism.”
Wallace said that while the white-sand beaches, and cascading waterfalls are what are used to market Jamaica in the tourism brochures, when visitors are asked what they find most fascinating about the island, they always say it is the people.
“When we do our exit interviews with visitors at the airport and ask them what is the one thing they like most about Jamaica, the answer is always ‘the people’,” he said.
Wallace said the TEF’s investing in the expansion and renovation of the Black River Health Centre is something the entity is happy to do because it is to the benefit of the Jamaican people.
“The clinic is a clear investment in the people of this country; you are the growth in our industry,” stated Wallace.
The TEF boss added that tourism is now benefiting from the way people have been using social media to create buzz, which, in years gone by, would have cost a significant amount of advertising dollars.
“Never before has tourism had the opportunity of transformation from an unclaimed industry to where the wealth can start spreading into the hands of the people of Jamaica because of the disruptive technology that we have seen in the last few years,” said Wallace. “I am talking about social media, which gives every Jamaican an opportunity to market Jamaica.
“A couple of years ago, the window to the world was via the Jamaica Tourist Board. We would have to spend millions of US dollars trying to get a 30-second spot on CNN and other overseas media, telling them to ‘come to Jamaica and you will feel all right’.”
The Black River Health Centre, which served more than 19,000 patients from communities such as Black River, Arlington, Vineyard, Middle Quarters, Fyffes Pen, Prospect, Ginger Hill, Springfield and New Market last year, is being used by the Government to redefine universal access to healthcare.