By Neil Armstrong
As the activities to celebrate Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of Independence in Canada unfurl, Jamaica is preparing to welcome Jamaicans in the diaspora and friends of the island who will be heading there to mark the milestone.
It will also be an opportune time to celebrate Jamaica’s expected feats at this year’s Olympics in London, England. Although the Ministry of Youth and Culture has taken the lead in organising celebrations across the country, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, Jamaica’s minister of tourism and entertainment, says events will be held in places like New York, Miami, London and Canada where there are strong diasporic communities.
He said the culmination of the celebration will be a series of gala events around August 6 and that there is great excitement about the milestone in the country’s history. “You find that when persons come to Jamaica, especially the visiting friends and relatives from the diaspora, they’re not just coming to one area.
There are persons who live in Negril, in Port Antonio, south coast St Elizabeth, so what’s happening is that a lot of organizations are having homecomings,” he said. Jamaica House will be held in London, England where there will be a focus on the Jamaican athletes who will be there for the Olympics.
It is a collaborative effort of Jampro and the ministries of youth and culture, sports, and tourism and entertainment, and the Jamaica Tourist Board. The tourism minister was one of the participants at the inaugural Caribbean Tourism Summit and Outlook Seminar 2012 held at the Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica on June 15 and 16.
Noting the 50th anniversary of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association and Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of Independence, Dr. McNeill said emanating from recent G20 meetings was a declaration to improve visa regimes and facilitate ease of travel.
“We expect that declaration to be placed on the agenda of the G20 later this year, “ he said. He commended President Felipe Calderon of Mexico for the strong leadership he played in furthering this agenda.
The minister noted that as globalisation and global travel present opportunities and challenges to the Caribbean region, he believes “we must, more so now than ever, seek to pool our knowledge, resources and strengths as one body.” He would like the region to develop one regional air policy.
Travel facilitation, airlift into the region and the overall competitiveness of the tourism product in the Caribbean were some of the areas explored at the summit.