Today we pull into a ‘rest stop of celebration’ along the route of a long road with ‘many a winding turn’.
We have not reached our destination, but one thing has become very clear to me in life and that is the need to pause from time to time to mark each major milestone, and to give thanks. Today’s exercise is not just significant, but heartwarming for many reasons.
Firstly – it captures the essence of who we really are as Jamaicans.we are a warm, hospitable people, who are always willing to open our hearts and homes – not only to friends and family, but to total strangers, whom we often charm into becoming members of our extended family.
You know, I have always been convinced that the best way to succeed in business, is to begin by finding a way to make a living from something you are not only good at – but something that you love.something that ‘warm the cockles of yu heart’.
For more than half a century we have proven to the world that the free and infectious Jamaican spirit gives us a definite comparative advantage in tourism.The beautiful beaches and breathtaking mountains are the brawta from the Almighty.
Speaking of brawta.Jamaica has often been described as the ‘biggest little island on the face of the earth’. Successive Ministers and Directors of Tourism and teams of technocrats have successfully capitalized on the amazing diversity of the lifestyle and the landscape by creating a product that offers many options.
In fact the Jamaican booth is always like a magnet at all the international travel fairs I have had the pleasure of attending while representing my beloved country. this new dimension to the accommodation sub-sector will render Jamaica even more attractive by adding a new layer of affordability.
This addition to our menu of options will surely enhance our reputation as one of the most diverse destinations on the face of the earth. Last year, as you would know by now, we enjoyed a phenomenal year in the trade. All indicators were up – from the record making 3 million visitor arrivals to the US$ 2-B in earnings, to the year long booming occupancy levels – even in the historically flat months.
Analysis by our experts at the Jamaica Tourist Board has definitively linked this boom to the addition of roughly one thousand new rooms in the market. This, of course was not the only reason, but certainly it was a significant contributor. I have to make this point to allay fears that we might be ‘over building’, or that there is any real risk of having a glut of rooms any time soon.
I am sure you have heard the marketing moniker ‘build it, and they will come’? Well, the response we have received in the market to the magnetism of the Jamaican mystique has convinced us that we are on the right track.
We need to keep adding steadily to the room stock, because each time we open up a new type of accommodation, we attract the attention of another underserved part of the market.and the exciting thing is that we have many more potential markets to tap in the future. There are the back packers and campers of Europe*, who might be very interested in the kind of accommodation we are celebrating today, and of course the Jamaican Diaspora which includes 2nd and 3rd generation nationals, some of whom do not own real estate here, even though ‘dem navel string bury here’. [figuratively speaking, of course], but let’s take it one step at a time.
We are proceeding slowly, deliberately and strategically to minimize any risk of errors or miscalculation of the market. I felt I needed to say that because there have been some concerns about the pace at which the development of this project has proceeded. Well, I am sure you will agree with the old adage that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
This leads logically to the third reason why we must celebrate today’s ‘stop’.the evidence of productive and living partnerships of all levels, and the reinforcement of the fact that when we put our collective minds to any task, we can achieve wonders.
The Bed and Breakfast Home Stay programme has been developed by TPDCo. – that is true, and we really should pause to congratulate them heartily for their diligence. It is always tough to single out individuals, but I do believe that Lorna Dunkley must feel like a proud parent at her first child’s graduation today.
That said.there are so many of you in this very room who invested so much time, talent and energy to ensure the success of the programme. Somehow, success always feels sweeter when it is shared – nuh true?
Let me start by acknowledging the leadership of Permanent Secretary Jennifer Griffith and her team. In this regard I have to commend the drive and creativity of her right hand woman – Director General, Carrole Guntley, who was like the midwife in the whole process.
If I miss out any key partner, I am sure the DG will help me out here.
– The Security forces who did the preliminary checks to advise us on areas of concern for the safety of householders and potential visitors alike.
– The Ministry of Health who provided training, inspection and advice to ensure that we conform to accepted global standards.
– Jamaica Business Development Centre for sound entrepreneurial advice to increase the likelihood of profitability of these enterprises.
– Unique Jamaica – for aggressively taking the rooms to market.
– The Jamaica Tourist board is always indispensable to any development within the industry, even though they are not directly involved in marketing this sub-sector.
– The Jamaica Association of Hackney Carriage and the Ministry of Transport & Works who will ensure the mobility of the guests.tourism involves travel there is NO way this could work without paying keen attention to the transportation sub-sector.
– We are also working closely with the Municipal Councils to ensure compliance and smooth implementation.
– We cannot forget the Ministry of Finance for offering a very important incentive – read my lips – NO.ROOM.TAX !
– Of course there is no B&B Home Stay without you – the home owners.BIG ups to everyone for work well done as a team.
This gives vent to the vision of the Most Honourable Prime Minister articulated last year at the start of her tenure – TOGETHER, we can succed and I am sure that together we will.
Before I leave you this morning, let me just enumerate some other reasons why today is so special. The first three are in keeping with the Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development.
1. It will enhance the visitor experience by sharing the ‘real Jamaica’ – uncut and unpretentious, yet comfortable. It’s like our ‘Meet the people’ programme meets traditional B&B.
2. It will make the industry more inclusive by allowing more Jamaicans to earn hard currency directly from the trade…and tax free, as I mentioned already.
3. Based on the studies we have done, we are sure that this market segment is sustainable, because there is very strong demand, which will not subside any time soon.
4. Finally – the 200+ rooms that are now totally market-ready shows that we have been able to seize the moment, in time for the hosting of Cricket World Cup, which starts on March 11. This means by the time the summer reggae festivals roll around, we will be able to take some of the pressure off the traditional hotels, villas and apartments to accommodate returning Jamaicans and foreigners I keep saying, but it bears repeating – this is being done in time for CWC 2007, but to be sustained for all times to meet the economic needs of all Jamaicans who want to participate in tourism in this way.
All things considered, I am somehow quite confident that the Bed & Breakfast Home Stay is HERE to stay.
Congratulations, and may you earn NUFF money – for as I said in my refrain during a community development workshop in Tourism Awareness Week in Whitehouse – Money is a good thing..and it is not outside our reach – just keep up the hard work, in true Jamaican style.
As the wise man Solomon said in the book of Proverbs:’All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.’
So.Less talkMore workNUFF MoneyOne Love!

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