'New beginning' for Ja's faith-based tourism
Bartlett says visit of TD Jakes pivotal for countryWednesday, November 13, 2019
BY HORACE HINES
FALMOUTH, Trelawny — Faith-based tourism in Jamaica got a major boost yesterday with the arrival of 1,800 visitors as part of Bishop TD Jakes's 2019 Faith and Family Cruise on the MS Nieuw Amsterdam, which called at the Falmouth Cruise Port.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett met the iconic, international clergyman and his entourage at the Falmouth Port, after which they headed for a brunch, hosted by Jamaica Vacations Limited, at Royalton White Sands Resort in Trelawny.
“This truly is a momentous day for Jamaica and for faith-based tourism. Since 2010, this is the largest, single grouping of Christian visitors who have come to Jamaica. Today, 1,800 visitors came from all walks of life, from several countries across the world,” Bartlett noted.
“They came because of one man, who is today the leading Christian leader, arguably, in the world. And Bishop TD Jakes, his presence in Jamaica signals a new beginning for us in a long effort to bring faith-based tourism to a position where we can begin to structure and make something positive of it,” he continued.
The senior pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas, who is also a best-selling author and award-winning film-maker, announced that he has already had discussions with Bartlett about collaborating with Jamaica in several ventures.
“Back home I am doing things in real estate development and there is a great deal of synergy — films and television, and so forth — that are possibilities for Jamaica. So we look forward to continuing our dialogue and see what can come out of it,” Jakes said.
He added: “I want to make a special cry out to all of the artistic people, producers, developers...and so on, we stand on the verge of perhaps creating opportunities for your expertise to be used and I look forward to discussing it further. Artistes, ministers, business leaders...executives, we cover the wide range of subjects that I think you would find interesting, not just faith, but faith and business because Jesus says, if you see a man naked he doesn't need the word, he needs a coat; if he is barefoot, he doesn't need God bless you, he needs shoes. And so we are talking about practicalising our faith in ways which could have a possible impact, and I believe it's possible.”
Bartlett disclosed that, among the plans discussed, was the staging of one of the bishop's signature events, Caribbean Summit, at Montego Bay Convention Centre between late 2020 and early 2021, which he predicted will bring 20,000 visitors to the island.
He argued that with Jakes' social media following, Jamaica could be positioned as “a place for meetings and for conventions from religious groups”.
“Just a single posting about Jamaica on his page is going to be seen by 16 million people. The invitation, therefore, is huge, and the implications are equally huge for growth and development for our industry to begin with,” Bartlett added.
“But beyond that, we are talking about practical investments. We are talking about investments in hotels, we are talking about investments in real estate...also investments in community development, and The Potter's House and the community around it represents an opportunity for us to look at what is possible because of modelling, and how we could create such a facility that will enrich our people and give a balance between spiritual values and temporal realities,” the tourism minister said.
For more than 40 years, Bishop Jakes has helped millions of people realise their purpose through his ministry. He has been recognised as “America's Best Preacher” by the Times Magazine, as well as “one of the nation's most influential and mesmerising preachers” by the New York Times. In 1996 Jakes founded The Potter's House, a non-denominational, multicultural church in Dallas, Texas, which has grown to more than 30,000 members.
Jakes expressed his enthusiasm over his one-day visit to the island.
“I want to thank you, Minister [Bartlett], for this hospitality and the prime minister also for bringing us and making this possible for us to engage and have a conversation. We brought the people here because we love Jamaica, we love the Jamaican people, we love the culture, and, yes, we'll admit, we love the food,” Jakes said.