Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
John Lynch is to be appointed executive chairman and director of tourism. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer
THE directors of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) have joined the growing list of public-sector executives, appointed by the 13-month-old Jamaica Labour Party government, to resign.
Last night, at least five members of the JTB board gathered at the New Kingston offices of the Ministry of Tourism to stress that the resignations were willingly submitted to allow Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, to install a team to weather the new challenges facing the industry.
Gleaner sources have indi-cated the new team will be led by John Lynch, who will be reappointed executive chairman and director of tourism. Lynch was up to yesterday chairman of the board.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Wayne Cummings, a member of the JTB up to yesterday, said he and other members agreed to step down on
a recommendation contained in a resolution raised by one person within the group.
Free rein for bartlett
The resolution suggested Bartlett be given a free hand to restructure the body.
"We have served quite capably, but we all recognise that we need to have a whole new response in relation to the prevailing conditions affecting the tourism industry at this time," Cummings said.
The latest edition of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation's World Tourism Barometer confirms the rapid slowdown of international tourism growth since mid-2008, reflecting the impact of rising oil prices at the beginning of the year and the deterioration of the economic situation.
For the country's benefit
In Jamaica's case, the island expects a 30 per cent decrease in stopover arrivals for the upcoming winter tourist season which commences on December 15.
"In response to the continuing global economic challenges affecting major industries, including travel and tourism, the board of the JTB has decided to disband itself in its current form, so the minister of tourism can reappoint a new group to meet the ever-changing demands of tourism globally," read a release from the ministry.
"A changing landscape of which has never been seen before demands a new architecture," Bartlett said. "We need to rebuild and redesign our structure to allow us to not only survive in these times of economic uncertainty, but to prosper and grow."
The news comes at a time when Bartlett has been criticised by Opposition Tourism Spokesman Dr Wykeham McNeill, who is demanding that the minister report to the nation on the current state of the tourism industry and the projections and plans for the winter season.
McNeill said yesterday that the need to address this issue was even more urgent in light of what he claimed was the dismissal of the board over a disagreement on Bartlett's intention to hire John Lynch as its executive chairman.
Organisations whose boards of directors have resigned since being appointed by the Government. Air Jamaica Urban Development Corporation Resort Board Jamaica Tourist Board
( L - R ) Wayne Cummings, Josef Forstmayr, Godfrey Dyer, Carolyn Hayle
Other members of the former JTB board