John Lynch (Chairman, Jamaican Tourism Board)

09.03.2011 - Interview conducted by Kim Cornett & Ashley S. Fitzpatrick

Q1. Nation branding in Jamaica relies on Jamaica’s unique and distinct culture. Social problems in Jamaica however, can pose problems in attracting tourists. What efforts can the Jamaican government make to curb violence and street crime in order to make Jamaica a safer tourist destination?

First of all, tourism and crime don’t mix. In the face of unemployment, organized crime makes people feel like they are part of something. So our goal is to do just that, to bring people into the system and make them feel like they are part of something. Tourism in the long-run will drive jobs, the economy and the well-being of society. It’s a gradual process and you have to enable people. Tourism is growing, which is good. You are able to bring more and more people into the system which is good for the future. It’s a process and it’s going to take time.

Q2. As the tourism market becomes more competitive, how can the “Jamaican brand” be marketed to give it a more competitive edge against other destinations in the Caribbean?

That’s a good question. I think that Jamaica is very blessed in being one of the most beautiful places in the world. We have many resources to work with and we have been upgrading by putting in new roads, improving the infrastructures and the airport. We have developed a wonderful reputation that is Jamaica, especially among the younger people. There also so many talented young people here. We have many attractions, such as over 160 lakes and other attractions. We even have dog sledding. The fellow who does this came from a less fortunate neighbourhood and he has created a program where he takes in dogs off the streets, trains them and they participate in these dog sledding tours. People love it.

Q3. Within the context of the global economic crisis, how can Jamaica, a country heavily reliant on tourism, secure future foreign investment?
Investors know where to make money. Right now, the tourism industry is doing very well and we are getting a lot of interest. People are interested. Our exports such as rum also attract tourism. The music and well known groups that appear on many talk shows and Youtube, also raise our profile.

Q4. Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean and shares economic interests with its regional neighbors. In terms of tourism, how cooperative are relations between Jamaica and its neighbors? What role does economic competitiveness play in these relations?

I was talking to the Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Board. We work very closely with them as the Caribbean is almost seen as a single destination. So we work together. There are many organizations. We do our best and we work with them.

Q5. Tourism globalization is considered to have negative implications on the environment both locally and globally. How can Jamaica and the international community work together to address the challenges that global tourism poses for the environment?

A country should be very careful that they mind their environment in their development. They should protect their environment because it is their raw material. In terms of the redistribution of wealth, I think that transferring wealth from a richer nation to a poorer nation is still the easiest way.

Q6. To what extent have cultural diplomacy played a role in integration and multiculturalism and in Jamaica’s multi-ethnic and diverse society?

Jamaica is very multiethnic. We are all mixed up. Our national motto is “Out of Many, One People”. I think it’s fabulous. It makes us more outgoing and more welcoming than any other place in the Caribbean.