A total of 56 tourism industry professionals, who have completed at least 50 years of service in the sector, were yesterday recognized for their invaluable service at the first annual Jamaica Golden Tourism Day Awards.
During the awards ceremony, which took place at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, the recipients and their families were treated to a formal dinner, where they received trophies, citations and other tokens of appreciation for their years of service, which ranged from 50 to 67 years – a combined total of 3025 years.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Tourism Hon. Edmund Bartlett said, “Our honourees this evening have given 3025 years of collective service in tourism, and for that we’re forever grateful and indebted. We laud you for your consistency and commitment to delivering service excellence, which remains a hallmark of Jamaica’s tourist industry.
For a half-century or more, you have helped to define and shape Jamaica’s tourist industry having provided such great service to the many visitors who the destination has welcomed over the years.”
The Minister noted that the idea to host the event was born out of a realisation that tourism has over the last 50 years, evolved into the most important industry in the world today.
“50 years ago, some 400,000 visitors came to the island and spent in the region of US$87,000 and our accommodation sector comprised about 5,100 rooms. Because of your efforts, we have grown and keep growing. In fact, this year we are going to see pretty close to 4.4 million visitors and they are spending US $3.3 billion,” said the Minister.
The Minister commended the honourees for their contribution to the growth of the industry and reassured them that policies and legislation are in place to secure the future of members in the hospitality sector for years to come.
“We believe that the time is now right to look at this great industry that you have helped to create. We will build a new architecture that is going to ensure that the efforts and legacies of all of you, is sustained in the constant development of this economy and the people of this country move from poverty to prosperity.”
He also requested a moment of silence, during his official remarks, to acknowledge stalwarts who were invited to attend the event, but passed away before the official ceremony.
“I think it is appropriate for us to pause to reflect on those who should have been here for this compendium of greatness which we have here this evening but were called by the strong arm of the Divine. Specifically, I want to acknowledge the former Minister of Tourism, Ambassador Frank Pringle, may his soul rest in peace,” said Minister Bartlett.
The event was the premier event to kick-start the High Season, which begins on December 15 each year.