Blue skies beckon our visitors
The new year greeted us with the bluest skies. No wonder then that we have had thousands of visitors fleeing the cold North over the holiday season. In fact, Sangster International Airport (SIA) in Montego Bay recorded 5,267,820 total passengers in 2023, surpassing 2022 by 19.6 per cent. The traffic for December 2023 was some 500,000 and continued high passenger traffic is expected for January 2024 to March 2024.
VIP Attractions’ Club MoBay and Club Kingston lounges have been a favourite of visitors. Their dynamic CEO Shelly-Ann Fung-King, who ensured a mix of charm and efficiency over the past 15 years, will be leaving the company and a new CEO, Tanya Beckford, has been appointed. VIP Attractions Chairman David Hall thanked Fung-King “for her years of commitment and hard work to bring the company where it is today”.
There are increasing cruise ship arrivals in Jamaica. We met friends in Falmouth at Flava-Ville restaurant at the pier. A rocking DJ kept a vibe going and the Jamaican menu items attracted a full house. Our African American friend, who made the Falmouth stop, shared an entry in his journal: “As I stepped out onto the balcony of the ship, there was my homeland and something in me was completely settled and at peace. All my senses felt at home in that moment.”
American singer and actor Fantasia Barrino-Taylor, who stars in the latest version of The Color Purple, was recently interviewed by Variety magazine and asked about her favourite place to visit. Her response: “I love Jamaica. Oh, my God! The food in Jamaica! I’m definitely gaining a couple of pounds. But I love to eat. I love to go to the clubs and dance all night. I just love Jamaica.”
Sandals Resorts International has thousands of repeat visitors at this, one of the world’s first all-inclusive resorts where service has raised the bar for the international hotel trade. They focus on professional development, now managed by former The University of the West Indies (UWI), Western Jamaica Campus director and Open Campus principal, Dr Luz Longsworth. It is this uncompromising focus on excellence which can make the tourism industry a ladder for professional achievement.
Winthrop Wellington has been celebrating Negril in his Throp Media series, featuring interesting interviews on his vlog on YouTube and Instagram. Wellington returned from the US to run his family business, Travellers Beach Hotel. His discussions with real estate experts reveal that Negril is one of the fastest-growing resort areas in Jamaica, not only along the seven-mile beach, but also the West End along One Love Boulevard.
Cedella Marley cuts
In a letter published last week, Cedella Marley announced her resignation as Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Women’s Football Goodwill Ambassador: “I must express my disappointment and growing concern with the turn things have taken in recent months. After the World Cup, I was under the impression that we all were committed to working together to build on that success. However, the ever-widening rift between the JFF and the team is very alarming. Numerous overtures to each of you to voice my concern and try to assist with a resolution continue to be met with non-committal, generic response.”
The Bob and Rita Foundation also announced that it would cease funding the JFF partnership. Via the Bob and Rita Marley Foundations and other partners, Marley had raised US$2.7 million in support of our Reggae Girlz. Marley, described as the ‘Fairy Godmother’ of the Reggae Girlz, assured them that she will continue her support with her Football is Freedom initiative.
Jamaicans shine abroad
Three Canadians with Jamaican roots have been appointed to the Order of Ontario for 2023: Gervan Fearon, president of George Brown College; retired internist, Dr Herbert Ho Ping Kong; and poet Dwayne Morgan.
Fearon, of Jamaican parentage, migrated with his family to Canada in 1968 and is president of George Brown College. He is the former dean of the Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education (named for the late Jamaica-Canadian business guru) at Toronto Metropolitan University, and also served at Brock University and Brandon University.
Dr Ho Ping Kong has been lauded as a legendary diagnostician. The UWI graduate in medicine was the founder of the first division of internal medicine at Montreal’s Royal Victoria Hospital. His book The Art of Medicine: Healing and the Limits of Technology is a best-seller. The University Health Network named an educational centre â€” The Ho Ping Kong Centre for Excellence in Education and Practice in his honour.
Morgan, son of Jamaican immigrants to Canada, is a celebrated poet of the spoken word. He was twice the Canadian National Poetry Slam Champion and was a 2016 finalist for the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. In 2013 he was inducted into the Scarborough Walk of Fame.
Congratulations to my dear friend British-Jamaican Yvonne Wilks-O’Grady, who was recently conferred with the Order of the British Empire by King Charles, in recognition of “her remarkable impact on the media landscape in the United Kingdom and Jamaica”.
Yvonne’s media journey in the UK includes Root Magazine, The Voice newspaper, The Weekly Journal, Pride Magazine, Readers Digest, TV Guide, New Woman Magazine, and Weekly Gleaner. In Jamaica she played a pivotal role in the transformation of Radio Jamaica into the RJR Communications Group. Yvonne is dedicated to special needs projects, inspired by her daughter Savannah who is on the autism spectrum.
Farewell, Prof Edward Baugh
Those of us who were lucky enough to have sat at the feet of Professor Edward Baugh will always have that voice in our heads, delivering his own and Derek Walcott’s lines. He was a generous mentor, reading countless manuscripts, including my own, for which I am forever grateful.
We last heard him at Yasus Afari’s poetry festival where Prof Baugh shared in verse memories of Portland, his birth parish. We delighted in Carpenter’s Complaint about “that mawga foot boy” who passed him by, despite building his father’s house to give the making of his late father’s coffin to someone else. At the end of his readings, we were on our feet with sustained applause.
Prof Baugh’s beloved wife, Sheila, was ever at his side, a warm and elegant couple. Our deepest condolence to her, daughters Sarah and Katherine, and other family members. May his great soul rest in peace.
Our 50th wedding anniversary
Hubie and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary last month with family and close friends. Tony Lowrie was emcee; our children Anita and Noel gave the welcome; and Tony Chin raised the toast. Archbishop Kenneth Richards blessed the occasion; and our pastor, Father Richard Brown, blessed the cake baked and decorated by Anita.
We were entertained by Leslie Chin, who sang his own composition, Patrick Chin and a Hawaiian Dance by Valerie Chin Burman. Our friend Horace “Natchy” Campbell, who had introduced us, took us down memory lane recalling how we sang and worshipped together.
We thank God for taking us to this milestone, and our loved ones for their outpouring of good wishes..
Jean Lowrie-Chin is executive chair of PROComm, PRODEV and CCRP. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or firstname.lastname@example.org.