Category Archives: Tourism

Vaccines, vaccines !

Minister of Health Chris Tufton has had a rough week. Soldiers turned away hundreds of people flocking to vaccination sites islandwide to get their second dose. In some places only people under 50 were refused a second dose, but at others the huge queues in advance of the site opening meant that the site was closed without a single vaccine being administered. Vaccines are apparently on the way but right now there are clearly not enough for those who want them.

At the same time nurses were complaining that they haven’t received their hazard pay for the vaccination blitz and more than a hundred doctors are concerned that their contracts have not been extended or they are only being offered six month contracts. The Minister seems to be suffering from cognitive dissonance as he was appearing on all the talk shows to urge that the doctors and nurses be paid and their contracts sorted out immediately. If the Minister is not responsible for solving the problem, who is?

Tufton is riding a sea of goodwill as his valiant efforts to combat the pandemic have met with some success over past fifteen months, however people’s memories are short and some of the problems at the Health Ministry are recurring decimals: there is never enough money available for timely payments to health workers and the Cornwall Regional Hospital renovations were slated for completion by the end of 2020 (and all now nothing 😔).

While Tufton struggled, the Prime Minister basked in the approval of most Jamaicans as he relaxed the curfew restrictions as of July 1, 2021. The nightly curfew moves to 11pm to 5am Monday to Saturday, 6pm to 5am on Sunday, and most importantly the entertainment sector will be allowed to reopen subject to receipt of the proper permits. According to many on social media people in their area are behaving as if the 11pm curfew is already in force and, of course, the partying never stopped for some. No sooner had the Prime Minister announced the relaxation of lockdown restrictions, than many critics pointed out that the Delta variant (which has apparently not reached Jamaica yet) is causing infection rates to rise rapidly in many countries around the world (US, UK, Israel, South Africa), the so-called third wave. Dog nyam we supper.

Opposition business

The Opposition continued to try to capitalise on the George Wright matter, continuing to press for him to be seated with the Government rather than among Opposition members. Karen Cross did not turn up to her disciplinary hearing. Dr Morais Guy berated the Minister of Health for his treatment of healthcare workers and Mark Golding made forays around the island attacking the Government on a variety of issues. Peter Bunting suggested that the easing of restrictions means the local government elections are near. He is no doubt mindful of the PM’s protestations last June that he had no intention of calling an election, only to call it 2 months later.

However, the general pandemic attitude of the populace still seems to be that if you’re not the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health or the CMO, (Chief Medical Officer Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie) them don wan hear nutten from you.


Learning to speak Spanish on Jamaica’s north coast

“Vaya con dios, mis amigos” means “Go with God, my friends”

Long ago, Jamaican hoteliers Butch Stewart (owner of the Sandals/Beaches chain) and the Issa family (owners of Superclubs/Breezes chain ) used to call for Jamaican Government to take tourism more seriously……they probably imagined that a massive increase in the island’s hotel rooms and visitor arrivals would be to their benefit…..

Sandals Ocho Rios ( 237 rooms)

As it turns out, the Spanish hotel chains (Riu, Pinero, Iberostar) are undercutting the Jamaican-owned chains at every turn…….they have more rooms, reservation systems that actually work and lower room rates…….Sandals is now trying to reposition itself upmarket in order to maintain its’ room rates……

Riu Ocho Rios (800+ rooms)

“Que sera, sera…” means “What will be, will be……”

In May 2006 Jamaican environmental groups (JET, NJCA) won a judgement against the Government for it’s failure to follow its own environmental regulations when it approved the construction of the Grupo Pinero’s Bahia Principe hotel. They probably imagined that the Government and its regulatory agencies would now proceed with greater care and attention to the long term environmental impact of building massive hotels all along the north coast.

As it turns out, with a general election looming,massive hotel projects are still being approved and construction begun immediately…. totally disregarding not only the environment, but labour relations and the health and safety of the workers.

No infrastucture ? No problema ! Number of rooms far exceeds the carrying capacity of the town/village/community where you plan to locate the hotel ? No problema !

And three people caught between a rock and a hard place:

(1) Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller

The rock ? The need to demonstrate that “she run things” by firing a few more P.J. cronies and by setting a new-fresh-totally-different direction for the government in order to win the next general election…..

The hard place ? The need to maintain party unity and keep long time PNP ministers, activists and financiers happy in order to have the money and internal support needed to win the next general election……

(2) Leader of the Opposition Bruce Golding

The rock ? Representing Jamaica’s most notorious garrison constituency, famed for its guns and dons…….(July 2001 violence)

The hard place ? Presenting an image as the leader best able to deal with Jamaica’s most pressing problem :- crime and violence…..

(3) DCP Mark Shields

The rock ? The investigation of the murder of the Bob Woolmer and the detailed, time consuming work involved in finding the killer – the eyes of the world are upon him. His reputation and his future are at stake…..

The hard place ? The explosion of violence around Jamaica, a bad omen for the general elections scheduled for later this year. As the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Crime, his reputation and his future are at stake…..