KEYNOTE ADDRESS TO THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE JAMAICA HOTEL & TOURIST ASSOCIATION BY HON. ALOUN NDOMBET ASSAMBA


It seems like just yesterday that I was here like this with you at the Half Moon Conference Centre in Montego Bay reflecting on our partnership within Jamaica’s lead sector.
In fact, it has been one whole year – almost to the date (Last year it was on June 10), and as usual, we have had a tremendous ride.
In reviewing the past year since our last such conversation, I could easily wax poetic and proclaim in the tradition of Charles Dickens
It was the best of times. it was the worst of timesIt was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief …it was the epoch of incredulity…
The thing though, is that I would have to qualify this approach significantly.to begin with – Dickens was setting the scene at the time of the French Revolution in 18th century Europe, while what we are concerned with is a bloodless Jamaican revolution, with the similarity being that nothing worth fighting for comes easy.
No – that’s not the ‘set up’ for any excuse. Surely you all know me by now – my thing is honest open dialogue, even when.and I dare say.especially when partners do not see things in the same way.
All I am saying – the period between June 10, 2006 and today, June 9, 2007 has been anything but dull.certainly not ‘business as usual’.
Global tourism is growing. and Jamaica must compete vigorously with other Caribbean nations, not just merely to survive, but (in the current vernacular) remain pon top a t’ings.
What does this really mean?
There are so many contending views about what signifies a tourist sector in growth mode, that sometimes if you are not careful, you do are not even sure what to do – in management jargon it is what they used to call ‘the paralysis of analysis’.
You are business people, and you know I am a woman who talks straight, so let’s just cut to the chase.
Addressing a meeting of the Caribbean Shipping Association on May 16 in Puerto Rico, CTO head Vincent Vanderpool Wallace uttered a great truth that cut through the clutter. He said:
‘I commend to everyone an article written by Frederick Reichheld [RIKE-held] entitled “The One Number You Need to Grow”. What is that number? It is the number of persons who will recommend your product or service to their friends and relatives.’
There is no argument about the fact that Jamaica is blessed with so many natural advantages.First there are the physical attributes such as the breathtakingly beautiful and varied landscape, bathed by the warm waters of the Caribbean 24/7s – 365. Many of our neighbours have Oceanic coastlines, often with unseasonably chilly waters.
When you look at the Caribbean basin, Jamaica is perfectly positioned in the epicentre, and just a short plane hop away from the world’s richest market.
Historically we also have very deep links with the world’s most formidable trading bloc, and this has developed into enduring economic partnerships.
Then there are the people.really the landlords of the ‘Rock’. Culturally, we have been socialized to serve, and technically we have achieved, and in some cases exceeded global standards of hospitality skills training.and then there is the fact that the language of instruction and trade is English – the same as the dominant global mode.
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