He has disclosed that amendments will be made to the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) Act to crack down on those culprits.
“We are ramping up efforts to boost compliance with guidelines within the sector. We have had constant consultations and will be amending the JTB Act to make it more effective, by introducing stiffer penalties and increased fines,” he said as he addressed the 54th Annual General Meeting and Convention of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) in Montego Bay recently.
“While we seek to grow our tourism sector, we also have to regulate the industry. While most of you here are regulated there are many others who refuse to be compliant and who place themselves, the industry and Brand Jamaica at significant risk,” Dr. McNeill added.
He told the industry leaders that he would be taking recommendations to Cabinet for drafting instructions within the next three months.
“The onus is on each and every player in the sector to comply with the relevant guidelines. Compliance with the required standards is very important to the success of the sector, as it improves the overall quality of our tourism product,” the minister said.
Meantime, Dr. McNeill urged industry stakeholders to practice responsible tourism so that more Jamaicans can benefit from the sector.
Noting that the industry continues to register growth despite various challenges, he said “while arrival figures, investments and room numbers are important benchmarks of success in the tourism sector, all of us in this room, as stakeholders, investors and partners, must understand that we have a responsibility to ensure the sustainability of the sector”.
“If tourism only benefits those in this room it simply will not be sustainable. We must ensure that the sector impacts the wider economy in a more positive way and that it benefits more Jamaicans. It is crucial for us to embrace the concept of responsible tourism, which focuses on providing better places for people to live, and better places for people to visit,” Minister McNeill added.
This, he explained, required that operators, hoteliers, government entities, local people and tourists take responsibility and action to minimize the negative economic, environmental and social impact of tourism.