PNP condemns unfair treatment of small tourism operatorsTuesday, September 14, 2021
ST JAMES, Jamaica— Opposition spokesperson on Tourism, Senator Janice Allen, is demanding that Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett take full responsibility for the “continuing fiasco and exclusion of small operators, including taxis and craft vendors from cruise-related businesses”, as the tourism industry struggles.
In a release today, Allen stated that Bartlett should know that the “buck stops with him”, as it was he who committed to the small players that they would not be squeezed out and would benefit from the cruise arrivals during the pandemic.
Allen's statement comes on the heels of an Observer story, published today, in which craft vendors blasted the Tourism Ministry for not taking visitors to the craft market.
They claimed that tourists, who arrived on Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Sunrise yesterday, were bussed only to jewellery stores and high-end attractions such as Dunn's River Falls.
Allen described the treatment of craft vendors and other small independent operators in Ocho Rios on Monday as “exclusionary and disgraceful”.
The PNP Spokeswoman said it was clear that the small operators could no longer take the minister's word.
“It is time for tourism to be fair and balanced, the inequities cannot be allowed to continue. The pandemic has highlighted this stark, ugly underbelly of the industry”, she said.
She also called for a seat at the table for the small operators so they can have input during the planning stages.
“Not all can benefit every time, but Jamaica needs the business to be fair and to benefit all, not just a few,” she added.
Allen said there were attractions of all types and sizes and if only a few continued to benefit, there would be inequity not only in tourism but in Jamaican society.
“A government must be able to balance and provide an environment for fair, decent opportunities for all,” she concluded.
Allen said going forward it must be a priority of the government to have more people benefit gradually and this should be communicated with clarity as to when and how these small operators would benefit since many have been without business for over a year.
In the meantime, she urged the government to review and reinstate the grant programmes for workers and small operators in tourism to avoid significant fall out of persons who the industry will need in the future.
She noted that the economy depended on tourism and as a result, systems and mechanisms must be fine-tuned for all participants to work together harmoniously.
For their part, the Ministry of Tourism has declared that it does not ultimately decide which of the designated attractions cruise ship passengers visit when they arrive on the island.