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Crawford bats for craft vendors

Crawford bats for craft vendors

That’s in comparison to countries such as the Seychelles which makes more than US$100 per person and Ethiopia which makes approximately US$50 from craft

As there are moves now afoot to inject energy into the tourism industry, Opposition Senator Damion Crawford yesterday knocked the Government for not being proactive in getting it ready for life after COVID-19.

Presently, bookings at the country’s hotels have been low because of the COVID-19 pandemic which hit the island last year March.

Speaking during a debate in the Senate on the Airports Economic Regulation Expansion Fund to have the Sangster International Airport expanded, Crawford contended that the period could have been used to better position the tourism industry.

For instance, he pointed out that the craft vendors in the tourism belt of the island are yet to be registered which puts their livelihood in jeopardy as operators move to work with those who would protect guests in the COVID-19 environment.

“Within this period of slow down, I am disappointed that the Government has not embarked on a preparation period so that there can be better circumstance for these individuals when the industry recovers,” Crawford said.

“We don’t know if the cruise ship is going to want their people to go to the craft maker. We don’t know if the cruise ship people going to want to have a bubble created on the pier to make sure that vaccinated are the ones who sell or to make sure that tested people are the ones …,” Crawford said as he bemoaned what he sees as the lack of preparation for that segment of the industry.

Low craft earnings Crawford argued that craft makers have not been protected and as a result, Jamaica is only earning around US$13 per person on average.

That’s in comparison to countries such as the Seychelles which makes more than US$100 per person and Ethiopia which makes approximately US$50 from craft.

“The craft in the Jamaican circumstances does not reflect the Jamaican culture, does not reflect the cultural heritage and, by extension, does not serve the reasons for craft consumption,” Crawford said as he lamented the so-called under-investment in the sector.

“Local production of craft has also died. The importation of craft is the number one basis upon which we actually have craft distribution. And so, while we are investing in fixing the airport, we have not similarly invested in development and production of craft in Jamaica,” he added.

He said the slow period should have been used to develop craft to reflect Jamaica’s athletic prowess and history.

The Opposition senator also pointed out that the transport sector which depends heavily on tourism was facing a crisis.

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JUTA is in dire straits,” Crawford said.

“One of the reasons why JUTA is in dire straits is that many of our hotel investors have started to become vertically integrated and, by extension, reducing the demand for hotel-to-airport travel that JUTA used to actually embrace,” Crawford stated.

Sangster International Airport has handled 63.5 million passengers and 763,761 aircraft movements and has been the Caribbean’s leading airport according to the World Travel Awards for the past 12 years.


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