Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer
The all-inclusive tourism package, which is being offered by some hotels in Jamaica, is said to be depriving visitors of a chance to get a genuine Jamaican experience as, for the most part, it does not allow them to go out and interact with the average local.
This sobering view of the all-inclusive concept was expressed by sixth-form students at the William Knibb Memorial High School in Trelawny, who participated in a Gleaner-Island Grill Youth Editors' Forum at the school yesterday.
"One thing I think should be excluded is the all-inclusive package because it doesn't really offer the tourists the chance to come and view Jamaica," said Orlando Dowlatt, noting that keeping visitors in their hotel was essentially keeping them away from the Jamaica that is advertised abroad.
Dowlatt, one of the eight panellists who discussed the theme, Falmouth: Jamaica's new economic frontier, fact or fiction?, was not entirely dismissive of the all-inclusive concept which encourages visitors to stay on the hotel compound, but he argued that some aspects should be discarded.
"They want to come and experience the real Jamaican culture, so that aspect draws persons," said Dowlatt. "Keeping them in the all-inclusive reduces our livelihood, our culture and the influence of it."
Education the key
In reference to the view that the all-inclusive caters to the safety of visitors, who are basically being shielded away from harassment and violence, Jilecia Green, another of the panellists, said she believed an educational campaign on how to treat tourists so as to reduce the risk of harassment could be instituted to lessen the need for keeping the visitors away from the general population.
"I think they need to have more seminars to educate persons on how to treat tourists, what to do, what not to do, and so on," said Green. "I think those would help in that regard, and also to create outlets, posters and flyers, issued in the town, so persons can be educated."
In emphasising his position in regard to providing visitors with a true Jamaican experience, Dowlatt pointed out that visitors do not necessarily want to see the Jamaica that is seen in television advertisement overseas.
"I have experienced where some persons come here, and they are not interested in Dunn's River Falls (in St Ann), even though that is what is being advertised abroad," explained Dowlatt.
While noting that Jamaica has a high crime rate, which would in some way justify the need to have all-inclusive properties, Dowlatt said he doesn't believe a genuine effort is being made to fix the security problem.
"In order to stop crime, you have to boost education," said Dowlatt. "It will get persons off the streets and reduce the crime rate, and thus reduce theft to the tourists."