Time to Rethink Jamaica’s Tourism says Sen Janice Allen
MONTEGO BAY, November 14, 2022 - Opposition Senator Janice Allen wants an economic reset of the tourism industry where stakeholders like hotel workers, transport operators, craft vendors, and local entertainers will benefit more from the massive turnover in the industry which shows little benefit to the main drivers of the industry: the workers.
Making her contribution to the State of the Nation Debate on Friday, Senator Allen bemoaned the challenging conditions under which tourism workers have to operate, noting that it was unfair that the majority of these industry workers have to settle for low wages.
"Too many of them become confused by the near USD$6 billion in earnings when they have received diminishing returns as their wages remain as they have over the many years," she said.
“We have a Minister who makes copious grand announcements, replete with figures for earnings, bookings, stop over arrivals and cruise ship dockings but truth is the common man is not feeling the benefits of tourism and even for some who work in the sector are not feeling so grand about tourism.
"So when the minister makes statements such as significant growth and earnings when the public hears the unimaginable numbers they ask 'then why does the place look suh?'...It just doesn't add up," the Opposition Senator lamented.
“We must address the existing inequities. We must work to ensure that everyone feels the impact of Tourism – otherwise it can’t be sustained…Behind the grand announcements lives the unrequited expectations of our tourism workers at various levels that this career would have empowered them to finance their children’s tuition at Tertiary Institutions here or abroad. Let them qualify for and be able to maintain a mortgage for their dream home, allow them to invest or even afford proper medical care,” Senator Allen declared.
Senator Allen took issue with a statement from JHTA President Robin Russell that we shouldn’t be seeking to increase wages at this time as it will make us uncompetitive.
“I could not disagree more!” Senator Allen said. “What will definitely make us uncompetitive is when the best of our people flee.How can we not seek to make adjustments when part of how we will recruit and retain the best of the best is remuneration?”
“I am not saying we should run businesses into the ground, but we must have the conversation as it is a linchpin in all that we face.This is how we will cause the mindset shift from seeing tourism as just a “work” to tourism as a “career,” The Opposition tourism spokesperson advised.