L-R Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, Andre Fowles ‘Chopped’ Champion, Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook
Finn Partners has been the public relations agency for the Jamaica Tourist Board since 2003. It was fitting then that the agency should host a ‘welcome back’ party of sorts for the Hon Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett on Wednesday March 6 2016. Imagine a packed room full of celebrities in their own right, whether it be the recently lauded Chopped champion Chef Andre Fowles, Alicia Ashley, mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records and newly crowned WBC female world super bantamweight champion (her 5th title to date), Courtney Rattray, Jamaica’s debonair Ambassador to the United States, Caribbean newspaper publisher Carl Rodney and his daughter Michelle Rodney, Nick Perry, Brooklyn politician and Deputy Chairman of Assembly District 58, Designer D’Marsh and Rocky Hess wearing one of his recent designs or Pat McKay, Director of Programming at Sirius XM to name just a few.
Introduced by Gail L. Moaney Finn Partners Managing Partner and Director of Travel/Lifestyle, Jamaica’s Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook made short shrift of shining the spotlight on Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism. Mr. Bartlett, looking the picture of health and vibrancy took center stage with a fairly brief outline of the vision of the newly elected Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labor Party. He surveyed familiar faces with a broad smile and quipped that it was good to be back home – referring to his previous tenure as Tourism Minister from 2007 to 2011 he is well poised to take advantage of renewing and building on his vast networks in NYC.
He was quick to dispel the myth that there is little return in tourism, even though “the money comes into the island and it then leaves the island with no circulation” and whilst acknowledging the slow growth in tourism revenue, his mandate is to grow the tourism industry by capturing greater market share in tandem with wider partnerships; a key plank being Jamaica’s biggest asset – its people – participating and benefiting as never before. There was mention of the plan to increase the Average Daily [room] Rate (ADR) by aggressively seeking new markets and positioning Kingston as a transportation hub from which to access onward destinations. It was interesting to see his vision include an increase in home-grown agricultural entrepreneurs, with locals being encouraged to fast track their small business plans to feed the demand for quality produce. His prediction of a 5% growth increase by 2017 seemed premature, but he is determined to attack sluggish growth using a different set of paradigms. Just scanning the assembly – I could see every person in that room was invited for a specific reason.
Tourism in Jamaica will face challenges, Cuba is opening its doors, other Caribbean islands are stepping up their game too – but as Bartlett says Jamaica is the Most Exciting Place on Earth!