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Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Damion Crawford, says tourism can play a pivotal role in the development of the country.

“It therefore means that we have to look at how we can improve on the benefits of tourism, because tourism can be the answer if it is correctly managed and correctly implemented,” he said.

The State Minister was speaking at a tourism symposium, held at the University of the West Indies on March 29, under the theme: ‘Tourism for Development: Illusion or Solution?’

He argued that for tourism to play a major part in the development of the country, there is need for the sector to diversify its products.

“Diversification doesn’t begin and end with the diversification of the market. A lot of times when people speak to diversification, they think you are automatically going to different countries. Now that is also a part of diversification, but it also speaks to the diversification of the product,” Mr. Crawford said.

“Offering the same product to everybody will not be the answer. If we want to diversify the market, we must diversify the product so that we can attract those persons who are socialised to vacation in different ways. We have the capacity to diversify into sports tourism – people coming here to train and people coming here for rehabilitation,” he added.

The State Minister said that Trench Town should be promoted as an area for cultural tourism. “Trench Town I believe is more popular than Kingston, because Bob Marley sings about it. But nobody goes there, as we do not promote persons going to Trench Town to have that experience of the culture,” Mr. Crawford said.

He also noted that the craft industry can be re-organised, so that focus is not only placed on the craft vendors.

“The craft maker and the craft vendor are not necessarily the same person. The personality that the craft maker might have may be different from the personality of the vendor, so what we have done over time, is to focus on mainstreaming craft vending without doing the same for craft making, thus leaving a gap,” Mr. Crawford said.

He emphasised that if tourism is managed properly, the Government will be able to improve the lives of Jamaicans.

                                   

By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter