BY INGRID BROWN
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
THE staging of the 19th Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx) in Kingston, instead of in one of the Jamaica’s tourist resorts, has worked in Jamaica’s favour, according to Bevan Springer, the organiser of the annual tourism conference.
Springer said many persons had expressed apprehension about the staging of the event in Kingston, given the perception about crime in the capital city. However, when the four-day conference ended Sunday, the more than 60 delegates from throughout the region and North America were said to be singing a different tune.
“Jamaica has delivered in every area,” Springer told the Observer during the conference’s final day at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston. “Many delegates came wondering why we chose Kingston, but the feedback we have been getting from them is that it has been incredible.”
Instead of visiting only tourist attractions, the delegates got an opportunity to give back to the capital, making a hefty donation of educational material to Kintyre Basic School and Maxfield Park Children’s Home in St Andrew.
“We decided to do this because of the feedback from delegates who say we need to create a positive impact on the destination CMEx is being held,” Springer told the Observer.
While he was unable to put a specific dollar amount to the donations, Springer said it was a considerable amount of supplies in addition to a donation of J$350,000.
Springer said CMEx believes in promoting diversity, and staging the event in Kingston was a key part of demonstrating this.
“It was a great thing to change the scenery to a capital which is so rich in culture,” he said.
Additionally, he said the discussions have been stimulating, as delegates were able to examine the linkages between tourism and education, youth, health and wellness, and culture among other areas.
Springer said CMEx intends to present a document to the Jamaica Tourist Board by this week providing recommendations on how to promote the destination as a cultural Mecca.
“We would like to return to Jamaica and mount another CMEx focussing on culture,” he said.
Meanwhile, with more countries becoming even more reliant on tourism to boost fledgling economies, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said the region is no longer competing among itself for visitors but with the world.
According to Bartlett, this is the first time that Britain has appointed a tourism minister, signalling a more structured approach and interest in that industry.
He said it is a similar situation with the United States which is no longer marketing tourism specifically for some states, but is now focused on marketing destination United States.
He explained that this is the reason $14 from every visa fee goes towards making up a pool of $200 million to market tourism in that country.
“As more countries embrace tourism for economic transformation, the liability of tourism as a source of revenue will become greater,” Bartlett said.
As such, he said the issues of visa, immigration control and the need for airlift arrangements must be dealt with.
Another issue to address, Bartlett said, was crime which, he argued, was the strongest deterrent to more visitors