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Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett, has defended his Ministry’s decision to focus on resort areas in its Spruce Up Jamaica programme, financed by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).
“I, as Minister, will never be comfortable when the people who work in the industry and live within the precincts of the [palatial] hotels, leave this area of opulence and richness and go home in the night to hovels and environmentally decrepit communities. So, I make no apologies to anyone,” he declared.
The programme was conceptualised by Mr. Bartlett, when he became Tourism Minister in 2007. It focusses on three main components of tourism- people, product and community. It is an initiative of the Tourism Product Development Company Limited (TPDCo) and aims to enhance the aesthetics of Jamaican communities.
Speaking at the awards ceremony for the Spruce Up Jamaica Tourism Essay Competition, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Friday (October 23), Mr. Bartlett said that the Ministry would be continuing with the programme in more tourist areas, to promote a sense of partnership among the people in these communities.
“We were conscious of what we were doing. And, we feel that the most appropriate way in which we can ensure the sustainable development of the industry, is when the communities that are around the hotels feel that they are benefitting from the proceeds of tourism,” he said.
Turning to the essay competition, Mr. Bartlett said that he was very happy that youths were being engaged to think about tourism issues. He added that the competition would be expanded next year.
Entrants aged 13-17 and 18-25, were invited to submit essays, dealing with either the importance of heritage and culture to tourism, or how a clean and healthy environment impacts on tourism earnings. More than 350 essays were sent in, with 50 being shortlisted.
Durrant Ellis, of Cornwall College in St. James, emerged first place winner in the 13-17 category. Aldesrol Ennis, of Munro College in St. Elizabeth, was second. Kadia Vassell, Lacovia High, St. Elizabeth and Delta Wright, Montego Bay High, St. James, tied for third place. Kadia Wright won in the 18-25 category, with Nathalie Ennis, second, and Lorita Clarke, third.
All the entrants who placed received cash prizes, cellular phones, adventure tours, hotel stays and other prizes, with the winners in both categories also receiving plaques with their essays printed on them.
Executive Director of TPDCo, Earl Patrick, congratulated the prize winners and urged them to begin thinking about the diverse resources in Jamaica and their responsibility, as citizens, to preserve them.
“The Ministry of Tourism has recognised the need to approach the development of our tourism sector from an inclusive angle, as it works towards creating a sustainable tourism sector. Everyone has a part to play in creating this sustainability,” he stated.

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