McNeill's actions unprecedented and disgraceful

Thursday, June 07, 2018

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Dear Editor,

It is clear that the People's National Party's spokesman for tourism, former Minister of Tourism Wykeham McNeill is using his chairmanship of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) to distract from the world-leading performance of Jamaica's tourism ministry and its agencies.

The fact is that the Ministry of Tourism and its agencies take part in extensive travelling as the business is overseas. This is the very nature of tourism and has been the case for decades. The result of engagements by myself and other ministry/agency officials has assisted in the best performance of Jamaica's tourism sector on record. We brought 500,000 more tourists to Jamaica's shores in 2017 over 2016, that's just one year, totalling 4.3 million tourists. This is as many as, or exceeds, what McNeill delivered in his four years in office from 2012 to early 2016 as minister — a really lacklustre performance in a generally great global economic environment. Additionally, the country raked in over $375 billion in revenues in 2017 alone — yet another record. It is no surprise, then, why McNeill is so afraid to make a sectoral debate presentation.

I commit to giving my best when working for Jamaica overseas in the pursuit of national prosperity. Tourism travel should be put in the context of the need, as is always the case, to regularly engage our critical stakeholders in North America, South America, Europe, and elsewhere. That has resulted in the cementing and opening up of new source markets in Latin America and Europe, more new rooms, more new flights, closer collaboration with cruise operators, first-rate relationships with non-traditional players like Airbnb, among other things, that represents the very cornerstone of our aggressive tourism growth strategy. That's value in the billions of dollars, not millions.

We are firmly on track to achieving, and likely surpassing, our growth targets, which is five million tourists by 2021, generate US$5 billion in earnings, increase total jobs to 125,000, and add 15,000 new rooms. Our work for the people of Jamaica will continue and we will not be dissuaded by people propelled by negativity.

To end, McNeill's actions as chairman of the PAAC is not only unprecedented and disgraceful but represents a gross abuse of his power.

Delano Seiveright

Ministry of Tourism

Kingston 5

delanoseiv@gmail.com

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