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Alarming number of tourism workers don't own homes - Wehby

Published:Monday | March 19, 2018 | 12:00 AMJanet Silvera/ Senior Gleaner Writer
Chairman of the Tourism Service Excellence Awards (TSEA), Dr Carrolle Guntley presents a gift to Senator Don Wehby during the awards ceremony last Saturday night.


Chief Executive Officer of the GraceKennedy Group Don Wehby said that urgent attention must be paid to the alarming number of tourism-sector workers who are without their own homes.

Wehby, who is also a government senator, said that he is concerned about a tourism survey that showed that, of 847 respondents, a whopping 85 per cent indicated that they did not own a house.

"Jamaicans dream of two things," Senator Wehby noted.

"Giving their children a good education and owning their own home are the two things our people covet most."

Wehby added that as a country, there has to be a stated priority "to develop a housing solution for the men and women who work in the tourism industry to be able to access affordable housing, whether through a National Housing Trust initiative or a private initiative."

Addressing hospitality workers at the Tourism Service Excellence Awards at the Montego Bay Convention Centre last Saturday night, Wehby argued that this should be the number one priority.

"I understand that the Cabinet has given approval for the drafting of the Tourism Employees Pension Act. Establishing this pension fund is an excellent idea and a great way to build and add value to our human resource capital, and so, the legislature is timely."

He noted that tourism directly employs over 106,000 Jamaicans while generating indirect

jobs for another 250,000 and stressed that the workers must feel they are getting meaningful value for the work that they put in.

"I have said this before, and I will say it again. The most valuable asset a company has is its people. Not inventory, not cash, not receivables," he stressed.

"The tourism industry's most valuable assets are the men and women who, every single day, are on the job giving stellar service."

The GraceKennedy CEO said that tourism workers are dedicated to providing world-class service that keeps Jamaica's name first and foremost in the minds of millions as one of the world's best tourist destinations.

"They reinforce our nation's reputation each time they interact with visitors," he added.

"We must protect and enrich our people, and I strongly support the policies aimed at addressing the welfare of the industry's employees."

Speaking directly to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, he implored him to fast-track these initiatives so they become fully operational realities.