BY: Maria Valencia
The Jamaican government and tourism authorities are embarking on initiatives aimed at tackling contentious matters concerning public access and sharing of the country’s beloved beaches, inland rivers, and other attractions.
Rafting on the White River in the parish of St. Ann was suspended in March by Jamaica’s Tourism Product Development Company Limited (TPDCO) after “multiple attempts” to get rid of operators who were not authorized by the government.
The decision was made as a result of “many consultations with the offending parties and a myriad of complaints from visitors and stakeholders,” according to a statement from TPDCO authorities.
According to officials, violations include “sexual harassment, raftsmen operating in a drunken state, other criminal activities and a prolonged breach of the River Rafting Act.”
The River Rafting Authority, the body in charge of river rafting regulation in Jamaica, ordered the erection of closure notices “advising the general public that the section of the White River under the bridge is closed to unlicensed activities.”
According to Bartlett, Jamaica’s Ministry of Tourism and the travel and tourism industry “stands squarely behind the Ministry of National Security to secure and ensure public order in the public spaces of Jamaica.”
He would not excuse “users of tourism assets who believe they can flaunt every law, walk beside every rule, and make the comfort of average people in Jamaica who use those spaces a miserable experience,” he added
In order to explore local tourism and the industry’s broader effects on the national economy, Jamaica’s tourism ministry and TPDCO in April started a series of “consultations” with tourist stakeholders in a well-known resort area.
Meetings were held with the Boardwalk Village district’s public and private partners, the Negril’s Destination Assurance Council (DAC), tourist stakeholders, and other parties, according to Bartlett.
For the purpose of “ensuring that the quality, standards, and integrity of Jamaica’s tourism products are maintained,” officials in Jamaica have established DACs in each of the country’s six resort zones.
Sharing the Benefits
Jamaica’s attempts to handle its tourism resources for the benefit of both citizens and visitors come at a time when the country is predicted to have a better-than-expected outcome. According to Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica is on track to exceed government estimates and see an 11% increase in visitor arrivals between 2022 and 2023.
According to a statement from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), the robust growth of Jamaica’s tourism industry in 2023 is due to the positive performance of key markets, with a notable seven percent increase in U.S. travelers. The JTB highlighted steady growth in several key markets as a major factor in the island’s tourism success.
Moreover, Jamaica is expected to witness a substantial increase in visitors from Canada, with a projected growth rate of 38.7 percent compared to the previous year. The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) officials also anticipate a 5.3 percent growth in travel from the United Kingdom and Europe to Jamaica.
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