Saturday, May 8, 2010
EDITORIAL: Watch out, Cuba is coming (Opinion about tourist industry in the caribbean)
"Not too many miles from Montego Bay, the tourism mecca which has been attracting visitors from across the globe, are communities saturated with gunmen who do not hesitate to turn their weapons on innocents, including infants. How long can Jamaica continue to keep this dirty little 'secret' hidden from potential visitors? And, if the country cannot protect its own citizens, how will it protect tourists? "
May 8, 2010 0 Comments and 0 Reactions
Industry watchers have been saying it for years. Cuba could become the number one tourist destination
in the Caribbean - as soon as the decades-old United States embargo is lifted.
Despite some softening, the US has not lifted sanctions but the news coming out of Havana indicates that 2009 was a bumper year for tourist arrivals. Last year, the Obama administration announced some easing of travel, monetary and telecommunications restrictions on our Spanish-speaking neighbour, and this has become a magnet for investors and visitors.
Lately, a conference staged by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association heard how Cuba is riding a tourism
boom and listened to hopeful predictions for Cuba's tourism future. And even though Cuba lacks the infrastructure to accommodate a great influx at this time, Jamaica needs to start re-examining how we operate.
The efforts of Jamaica's tourism minister and his hard-working team represent virtually the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal economy. Recognising that tourism is truly one of the fastest growing industries, Ed Bartlett and his team have been working hard to get the country's share of the tourism pie. But Jamaica has every right to worry because even outside of the dread travel advisory being issued the soaring murder and mayhem in the Second City is threatening to derail those gains.
Mecca in danger
Not too many miles from Montego Bay, the tourism mecca which has been attracting visitors from across the globe, are communities saturated with gunmen who do not hesitate to turn their weapons on innocents, including infants. How long can Jamaica continue to keep this dirty little 'secret' hidden from potential visitors? And, if the country cannot protect its own citizens, how will it protect tourists?
There is a general notion that the escalating crime in St James is linked to the lottery scam which seeks to con unsuspecting people out of their money by advising them that they are winners in a sweepstake that require them to remit money in order to claim the winnings. But this scam is more than three years old and, apparently, we are no closer to finding the masterminds and punishing them. The sense of frustration, even disappointment, at the inability of the police to stem the bloodletting in the Second City was evident when stakeholders came together this week.
With new police leadership in St James, the way is clear for a fresh approach to crime- fighting. While recognising that the police must do their job in the least obtrusive manner, there needs to be a sustained multi-agency assault on these criminals. The fight must involve the police, the military, communities, civil society and the media, and the immediate task must be to capture the mastermind behind the spate of murders.
Loyal Jamaicans will always come home, if only for funerals, and the hardy traveller will continue to explore. However, it is conceivable that if our country continues to be associated with murder and mayhem tourists may shun the island. Right now, the image of Jamaica imprinted in many people's minds is that of a murderous, corrupt country that is teetering on the edge of disaster.