Crime continues to dampen investments in Jamaica, says WehbyTuesday, November 30, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The economic impact of crime and violence continues to be felt across the length and breadth of the Jamaican business community but has been particularly impactful on the important but fragile tourism industry.
This was recently highlighted by Government Senator Don Wehby during his contribution in the Senate on the motion to extend states of emergency [SOEs] to help rein in the crime monster.
The motion ultimately failed as three of the Opposition senators present at the time of the roll call voted 'no' while five were absent. A two-thirds majority in the review chamber was needed for the motion to have been successful and for the government to have kept its main crime-fighting tool in place until February 10, 2022.
While he pleaded for the Opposition to support the emergency measure, Wehby noted that based on the latest data, the tourism industry contributes about 10 per cent of Jamaica's Gross Domestic Product [GDP].
“Our tourism industry is doing very well. However, can you imagine if we can get the crime rate down, our tourism industry would do significantly better?” Wehby remarked.
“I can speak as the chairman of JAMPRO (Jamaica Promotions Corporation); crime has been a deterrent to foreign direct investments especially in tourism. If we can get the crime down, we could command a high premium for our tourism product. I make no apology when I say, Jamaica is the best country in the world despite our problems — our rich culture, beautiful island, and great hotels,” said Wehby who is also the chief executive officer of food conglomerate, GraceKennedy.
Wehby shared that he had a recent discussion with a player in the tourism industry who expressed that the country could attract a 40 to 50 per cent premium for its tourism offerings which would flow directly into the economy.
“That way we would have more capital investment in our country and create more employment,” he said.
Wehby also pointed to a study done by the International Development Bank which estimated that the cost of crime is up to four per cent of Caribbean countries' GDP.
“I personally think that for Jamaica the figure is significantly more than that,” he said.