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Bartlett to offer plans for tourism's growth

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, July 09, 2012    

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MONTEGO BAY — Opposition Spokesman on Tourism, Edmund Bartlett has given notice that during his presentation in the sectorial debate later this week he will make recommendations that he believes will assist the Government in its quest to position tourism as the main driver of the economy.

"I will use the opportunity to offer some guidelines to the future because I really do think tourism is the answer to Jamaica's economic problems today if we get it right ... and I believe there is a way to get it right," Bartlett told journalists during the launch of Reggae Sumfest 2012 at the Iberostar Hotel in Rose Hall last week.

"It may not be a simple one, two, three. It will take some political will to do it. It will also take a careful determination on the path of our policymakers," the former Tourism Minister stated.

Last week, tourism minister Dr Wykeham McNeill announced that tourism arrivals continue to increase, with the country welcoming 1,081,480 stop-over visitors between January and June of this year, a 3.4 per cent increase over the similar period last year.

But Bartlett, who is the MP for East Central St James, accused the tourism minister of failing to articulate any new strategies to advance the growth of the sector.

"I think, however, that his presentation was deficient in terms of new strategies, a blueprint, a road map that can take us beyond where we left it into new dimensions of growth that the industry requires," Bartlett said.

"He was weak in any kind of a imperical data, statistical guideline on what kind of growth we can expect and where and how," Bartlett added.

In the meantime, the tourism shadow minister argued that he took note that during the minister's presentation, Dr McNeill was "most eloquent in enunciating all the achievements of the past administration".

Bartlett went on to blast the tourism minister for also not sufficiently addressing the plight of other players in the sector, especially the small hoteliers.

"Small hotels are at the moment at risk in the present architecture. They have a difficulty competing with the larger hotels and indeed the models that we are using in Jamaica now are different from the models that were there prior to the 2000s," Bartlett argued.

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