Create a more inclusive sector - Bartlett urges tourism players to fulfil their corporate social responsibility
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has urged Jamaica’s tourism industry players to fulfil their corporate social responsibility, arguing that the sector’s success cannot only be simply limited to a rise in employment rates or record visitor arrivals and profits.
Speaking at the 58th annual general meeting of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) on Saturday at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort, Bartlett said increases in visitors and revenues do not automatically translate to an improved standard of living in the country.
He said tourism ought to deal with the issues of inequality and create a more inclusive sector with a more equitable distribution of wealth, as its true success lies in broad-based initiatives that benefit the Jamaican people.
“I believe that tourism is the solution to many social and economic woes that our country faces, and I believe that corporate social responsibility that represents a defining arrangement that the tourism sector must embrace, particularly as more responsible behaviour not only by visitors, but also by businesses, has to be taken which will lead to an increased demand for sustainability and responsibility,” the minister said.
Essentially, his message is aimed at seeing corporate social responsibility taken to the next level.
“It must not be about painting a school here and there; providing a bed here and there in a hospital; it is supposed to become part of the DNA of tourism, because the interrelationship between the community and the enterprises is what gives energy and drive to the process,” he argued.
Bartlett said that with entities embracing corporate social responsibility, countries like Jamaica, which are tourism-dependent, will undoubtedly see a rise in gross domestic product (GDP), a fall in debt-to-GDP ratio, and a rise in employment levels.
He said adult literacy, educational expenditure, digital literacy, and housing in tourism were some of the sector’s key performance indicators which could be impacted through corporate social responsibility.
Making reference to a project in the Lilliput community in St James, where the Iberostar hotel has undertaken an agri-tourism linkages programme with residents of the area, Bartlett described that as an example of a transformation.
“Citizens in Lilliput are into backyard gardening, using the hydroponic technology. They are now growing tomatoes and bell peppers and other kinds of winter vegetables,” he told the stakeholders, which included hoteliers, tour operators and destination-management companies.
“That is going to be replicated across tourism communities because that’s how more of the local suppliers are going to find their way in the tourism sector, and the resources are going to go back into the communities,” he added.