Tue | Sep 26, 2023

Former president rallies support for JHTA’s growth

Published:Tuesday | November 1, 2022 | 12:05 AM


JAMAICA Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) members have been challenged to maintain consistently high standards for the industry’s sustenance given the vast benefits and opportunities that visitor engagement bring to developing economies.

Clifton Reader, the immediate past president of the tourism body, made the call at the JHTA’s 60th anniversary gala dinner at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa on Saturday, October 29, where a number of members were recognised for services rendered.

Myrtle Daley, Vivienne Dawson, and Karim Waite were rewarded with Long Service Awards; Jessica Shannon with the President’s Award; Nicola Madden-Greig, Evelyn Smith, Omar Robinson, and Reader with the Past President’s Award; and Noel Sloley, Josef Forstmayr, Gordon Townsend, and Lionel Reid with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Amid the glitz and glamour of the well-supported black-tie affair, Reader said that an important facet to efforts for the continued advancement of the JHTA must be the treatment meted out to its labour force, which has been at the heart of the business since its inception.

“The founding fathers set us in a way that we could contribute, year after year, to tourism. Remember, tourism is that vehicle, one of the only ones that can transfer wealth from richer nations to poorer nations in the shortest possible time. And we’ve seen that through the pandemic,” said Reader, who is managing director of Ocho Rios’ Moon Palace resort.

“We’ve gone through 60 years. We’ve basically come on a path that now, we have to look at our businesses, look at our linkages and see where we can take Jamaica for another 60 years. We went through the last two years, the most difficult period in the history of our tourism product, and, of course, COVID being no respecter of countries, no respecter of persons or creed, but we came out a lot better,” he said as he reflected on the impact of the global coronavirus outbreak.

“Never in the history of our industry have I seen so many work so well together to make sure that Jamaica’s tourism is where it’s at today.”

Reader cited the unity among tourism stakeholders as the key to the success of the industry.

“This morning I spoke about some threats to the product, and we must be very careful as we go along,” he warned as he referenced discussions held during the JHTA’s AGM earlier the same day.

“Our labour market, we’ve to look at how we treat our employees,” he emphasised. “We’ve to make sure that they will want to stay with us, and not necessarily leave our shores, or leave to other industries.

“But ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you that the future is bright, and we’re going to ensure that whatever we do that there is continuity,” he said.

Reader highlighted the importance of the JHTA to growth and development of the tourism product.

“Of course we’re a private sector umbrella organisation looking after our members, and if one should put a description to tourism, I think you’d have to look in an economic way to do so,” he said, noting that “… 25 percentage of your income comes directly or even indirectly from the trade.

“So we’re all tourism partners here, and I want you to celebrate with us because we’re not going to stop here. We want to make sure that whether you’re in manufacturing or the services industry that we work together to ensure the quality of the product,” he said. “I am very proud of all those. Every single one of you would have contributed to the success of the JHTA [and] to my success.”