ST JAMES, Jamaica - Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, says the Government is committed to assisting tourism workers to find adequate and affordable housing, so they can enjoy a more comfortable way of life.
Bartlett said it is against this background that the Ministry of Tourism has entered into partnerships with the Ministry of Housing, the National Housing Trust and private housing developers “for them to earmark” several units in their developments to be acquired by tourism workers.
These agreements, he said, will take into consideration the need for tourism workers to have ease of access to their workplaces.
“So, we are looking at schemes in resort areas, for instance, in Montego Bay,” Bartlett said, adding that there are units in The Estuary, Rhyne Park Estate and provision is being made to set aside some units in Grange Pen, all in St James.
“It is not fair to ask our tourism workers to be on the job at very posh hotels, villas and apartments and ensuring that guests have a great time by smiling for them, engaging in conversations about how great Jamaica is as a vacation destination, then at the end of the workday, have to be going home to inadequate housing where they have to struggle to make sure the rent is paid,” the minister argued.
“There is a sense of dignity and peace of mind in knowing that when the key is turned in that lock of the house or apartment you occupy with your family, it is yours.”
Bartlett went on to say he is confident that once workers are comfortable within the confines of their own personal homes, the tourism sector is guaranteed to get individuals who are more committed “and will give you everything they have”.
“Jamaica's biggest asset has always been its people. The tourism industry is blessed with an iconic bunch of workers and who have been doing yeoman service for this country. I don't know what we would do without them,” he noted.
Bartlett further stated that even though COVID-19 remains a concern, he is optimistic that there are brighter days ahead for Jamaica and its international partners.
“I am very confident that the world will overcome this pandemic, as it has others that have plagued us in the past, and we will be able to resume normality in our daily lives, only this time more assured that our scientists and medical persons are better equipped to respond to issues when they arise and knowing that we have a greater role to play in safeguarding our health,” he argued.
“Like tourism, we are a resilient people whose goals must always be set on overcoming adversities and striving for the reward at the end of the journey.”