Opposition Spokeswoman on Tourism, Senator Janice Allen, says Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett must take full responsibility for the continuing fiasco and exclusion of small operators, including taxis and craft from cruise related businesses, as the tourism industry struggles.
In a release today, Allen said the minister should know that the buck stops with him, as it was he who gave the commitment to the small players that they would not be squeezed out and would benefit from the cruise arrivals during the pandemic. She said the treatment of craft vendors and other small independent operators in Ocho Rios yesterday was 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.
Allen called for seat at the table for these small operators so they can have an 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 the 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 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, The PNP spokeswoman added, the government should 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 said the economy depended on Tourism and as a result systems and mechanisms must be fine-tuned for all participants to work together harmoniously.