(TVLW) – JOHN Lynch, the new chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), yesterday told the Government and the police to immediately find a way to address the island’s spiralling crime rate.
Crime, the JTB chairman told business leaders, was the single largest threat to tourism and if it was not put under control all efforts to invest in the sector could be seriously threatened.
“There is no seasonality to this situation, and so all efforts to invest in tourism are doomed if we cannot find a way out of this tragic and too often fatal problem,” Lynch told the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Job Creation Awards at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, the Jamaican capital.
“Investment in our people must mean an immediate solution to our national shame, which is crime in Jamaica,” said the JTB chairman.
He also called on businesses to support the anti-crime fight by helping with their resources.
According to Lynch, nothing was more critical now than bringing the crime problem under control, and he implored the business community to join in the crusade.
“Together we can make a difference because I believe that only when the public sector puts its resources and know-how fully behind this issue will crime decline, because when the economy improves crime declines,” he said.
“We must make an effort to share the pleasures of our country’s history and culture which take visitors beyond the beach, and so we also need to see the value in incorporating local goods, services and culture experiences into the tourism mix,” he said.
Visitors, he suggested, should be taken on hiking expeditions to the Blue Mountain to get a first-hand experience of how coffee is picked, roasted and packaged so as to better understand its importance as an export product and the communities which benefit from the harvest.
The JTB chairman said tourism has been poised to be the cornerstone of wealth creation in Jamaica as it’s now the country’s largest source of foreign exchange, surpassing bauxite. Steps, he added, must be taken to protect and enhance what has been built.
“.Government needs to be fair in accessing tax implications for the hospitality industry,” Lynch told the business leaders, adding that with so much on the shoulders of tourism to deliver economic opportunity, the Government must treat tourism as the precious trade export that it is.
He said, too, that Jamaica must court the world’s airlines to maintain an open, fresh, new market for attractions investment here. But he said the sector must resolve to strengthen the financial health and reliability of Air Jamaica, the national carrier.
“Any investment in the sector without careful consideration of consistent lift to the destination will be pointless,” added Lynch.