Editorial

It is indeed time for big thinking and bold action

Thursday, August 24, 2017

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A few weeks go Mr Adam Stewart, the deputy chairman and chief executive officer of the Appliance Traders Group, which includes this newspaper, made a compelling argument for improvement to one aspect of Jamaica's tourism product.

Mr Stewart was giving support to a point raised by fellow hotelier Mr Robin Russell that the authorities need to get serious about improving conditions on Gloucester Avenue, known as the 'Hip Strip', in Montego Bay.

The Hip Strip is home to hotels, restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, and other businesses. It is patronised by visitors to the island and Jamaicans living here.

However, Messrs Russell and Stewart have highlighted a fact that is well known but is not often spoken aloud — the Hip Strip experience is substandard as it is being tarnished by harassment and poor security that affect Jamaicans and visitors alike.

Both men hold that serious changes need to be made to revive the area and transform it into the kind of attraction that will pull visitors from their hotels, particularly those that offer all-inclusive packages.

Mr Stewart made a plea to his counterparts in the private sector to work with the State in improving conditions on the Hip Strip. “Montego Bay is the tourist capital of Jamaica, and it is time that we hold hands as private and public sector partners and deal with the issues that have been articulated time and again and continue to stare us in the face,” Mr Stewart said.

“I am supporting the call for us to get serious and seize the opportunity to not just restore the Hip Strip but take it beyond that. Let it become the South Beach, A1A of Jamaica showcasing a convergence of entertainment, gastronomy, lodging, and international world-class shopping; exposing the authentic cultural richness of Jamaica that continues to fuel a worldwide obsession,” he added.

We support this appeal, not because of Mr Stewart's association with this newspaper, but because it makes perfect sense. Tourism, globally, has transcended beyond sand, sea and sun. Those are attractions available at myriad destinations. What will define Jamaica is the difference of our product influenced by its unique ingredients and the scale at which we establish, market, and promote the product.

Mr Stewart's encouragement, therefore, to “think big, think international, and think about revolutionising the offerings and the landscapes” is most appropriate.

The success Jamaica is already experiencing in tourism can certainly be enhanced with big vision, bold action, and the will to be more aggressive in the market. That is what has led to the success of our top hotels and attractions.

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