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Tribute to the Most Hon Edward P.G. Seaga, Mr. Edmund Bartlett

Release Date: 
Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 16:30

Parliament Presentation
– Tribute to the Most Honourable Edward Seaga 
Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hon. Edmund Bartlett
Opposition Spokesman for Tourism and Travel Development
Member of Parliament (MP)

Mr. Speaker, it is a challenge for words to describe the long-lasting, fundamental and awe-inspiring impact of the Most Honourable Edward Phillip George Seaga on Jamaica’s political, economic, cultural and social development. Mr. Seaga never flinched in putting Jamaica’s best interests first, he never wavered under the pressure of conflicting special interests and he never collapsed under the weight of the many tremendous challenges that plagued the people of Jamaica for decades.  

VISIONARY

Mr. Speaker, ever since taking the step into active representational politics over fifty years ago, Mr. Seaga’s all-encompassing vision for Jamaica and most importantly his pragmatic application of that vision whenever he could, makes him deserving of this glorious moment today in Parliament as we honour his work over these many years. A critical aspect of Mr. Seaga’s vision was the ability to spot and develop young talent in our political sphere. It was in the tumultuous times of the 1970s that I, Bruce Golding, Dr. Mavis Gilmour, Winston Spaulding, Douglas Vaz, Don Wilson, Basil Buck, Anthony Abrahams, Oswald Harding, Karl Samuda, Ryan Peralto, and Dr. Kenneth Baugh among several others joined in on the political process under his leadership of the Jamaica Labour Party. In latter years through our work at the Universities and elsewhere we saw to the incorporation of the Andrew Holness, Dr. Ronald Robinson, and Dr. Christopher Tufton among several others in the political process today. Mr. Seaga was not just a man concerned with economic and physical development, he was also committed to human development and he did it to very good effect.

Mr. Speaker, It was a no brainer as to why so many of us joined Mr. Seaga in his efforts. He aptly stated in his keynote presentation to the JLP’s All-Island Conference 2001 the following, “We set out not to destroy wealth, but to create it; not to pull down the strong who succeed, but to pull up the weak who are trying; not to accept ignorance as a way of life, but to abolish it; not to tolerate injustice to man, for every man must have equal rights and justice.”.

That to me Mr. Speaker encapsulates just some of why several of us joined in the process of nation building.

TOURISM’S DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Speaker as we honour Mr. Seaga’s work to develop Jamaica, we cannot under any circumstances discount the enormous contributions to the tourism sector.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Seaga then under the Prime Minister Hugh Shearer administration established the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) in 1968 which through effective planning in part fueled the development of tourism sector. In all, the waterfronts of Kingston, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay were developed into major resort, residential, port, commercial and office complexes. Mr. Speaker, whenever you look at the Montego Bay Freeport area and the Ocho Rios waterfront both of Jamaica’s leading tourism areas; they are testament to the planning of Mr. Seaga that has benefited Jamaica to this very day. Among other accomplishments, Mr. Seaga’s vision spearheaded the development of Negril as a resort area. It is important to note that some 50,000 acres of choice land were acquired by the UDC at Mr. Seaga’s initiative to establish a land bank for further development. This formed the basis for planned developments such as Hellshire, Bloody Bay (Negril) Seville and Auchindown (Westmoreland).  Talk about a vision, talk about forward planning, talk about real development, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, under Mr. Seaga’s visionary guidance and his strong leadership as Prime Minister, his Tourism Ministers Hugh Hart and the late Anthony Abrahams secured Jamaica’s tourism future through sustained and extensive product development, marketing and airlift initiatives.

EXPANSIVE GROWTH

Mr. Speaker, Jamaica’s most expansive growth rates occurred in the 1980s. After the challenging times preceding that decade the Administration launched the crucial and very successful “Come Back to Jamaica” campaign. The figures are worth sharing, throughout the 1980s Stopover and Cruise arrivals growth averaged a whopping 12.5 percent but even more significantly total stopover and Cruise arrivals more than doubled from 1981 to 1989 moving from just over 500,000 visitors to near 1.3 million at the end of the decade. Additionally, total number of rooms increased by approximately 50 percent from just over 10,000 to 15,000 while direct accommodation employment increased from under 11,000 to approximately 18,500 or around 70 percent rise. It was also in this era that two of Jamaica’s leading and local owned all-inclusive resorts, Sandals and Superclubs. Let us also not forget that Jamaica welcomed its one millionth tourist on December 17, 1987 and experienced flourishing developments of hotels and attractions including Dunn’s River across the island.  This comes as no surprise given Mr. Seaga’s own strong interest in tourism which propelled him to enter into his very own private sector venture, Carinosa in St. Ann, then a wondrous eco-tourism product which shows clearly his strong faith and commitment for Jamaica’s tourism product and potential.

Despite the avalanche of challenges, the 1980s was a golden era for tourism in Jamaica, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the first rate marketing push by the government under the auspices of the Jamaica Tourist Board cannot go without mention. According to history highlighted by the JTB, that era in part saw changing technologies as well as the JTB’s continued exploration of new marketing methods and additional markets as far away as Japan. Jamaica was also many steps closer to shedding its image as a winter vacation destination and becoming an “all-year (four seasons) vacation spot”.

On another note, Mr. Speaker, In June 1984 Jamaica got its first female Director of Tourism, Carrole Guntley with Tourism mogul then Senator John Issa as its Chairman. A big step in further cementing Jamaica’s tourism future.

In an effort to push our strong music based culture Jamaica held the World Music Festival also in the early 1980s.

Also Mr. Speaker, there was great emphasis on training and in 1986 the Runaway Bay HEART (Human Education and Resource Training) Academy was established with the assistance of the Board’s training department.

On the sports tourism side Mr. Speaker, in 1985 the Government signed an agreement with the Professional Golf Association (PGA) for Jamaica to host the Annual Mazda Golf Championship which offered a record first prize of US$500,000. The tournament was staged at the Tryall Club in December of that year. Mr. Speaker this is testament to the achievement oriented ethos of the Seaga administration.

As it related to airlift Mr. Speaker, the introduction of scheduled weekly celebrated Concorde service from New York to Montego Bay for the winter of 1986 / 1987 provided an additional 1200 airline seats into the island and created additional marketing opportunities for Jamaica. Further, Mr. Speaker, in 1987 the government completed negotiations with the German airline LTU to fly once per week to Jamaica meanwhile we had weekly charters as air service was established to Jamaica from Brazil and Argentina.

Mr. Speaker for Cruise Development, in 1986 Jamaica was ranked fourth in the Caribbean for cruise ship passenger arrivals that year and beyond that Mr. Speaker, in 1987, a total of 1,037,634 visitors arrived in the island and with this achievement Jamaica became the first country in the Caribbean to welcome one million visitors in a 12-month period.  Visitor expenditure was estimated at then a whopping US$595 million.

Mr. Speaker, Several new attractions were open and let us of course not forget the super promotions and sprucing up of Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios.

In the realm of Public Relations the JTB campaign was acknowledged by the Public Relations Society of America and awarded its 1988 Big Apple Award for Excellence in the Crisis Communication category to the JTB’s public relations agency for restoring Jamaica’s image after Hurricane Gilbert, Mr. Speaker. The Seaga administration saw it as of utmost importance that we quickly resuscitate the tourism sector after the devastating impact of Hurricane Gilbert.

Another major development was the launch Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) which to this day serves as the marquis tourism trade show for Jamaica.

MOMENTOUS TIME

Mr. Speaker, these are just some of tourism’s primary achievements under Mr. Seaga’s sterling leadership as Prime Minister and other Ministerial capacities over these many years. From critical infrastructure development to expert marketing; from essential airlift support to making sports tourism a reality; and from creating an investor friendly climate to developing and promoting multiple attractions, Mr. Seaga’s leadership blazed a path of excellence for tourism.

Mr. Speaker, on this momentous day and year in Jamaica’s history, as we reminisce on Jamaica marking 50 years of independence, I salute the Most Honourable Edward Phillip George Seaga for his unselfish contributions to Jamaica’s overall development for those 50 years and more. I salute you Mr. Seaga for your vision, for your expert realization of that vision when you could, for your discipline, for your hardnosed attention to detail, for your unshakable character, for your love of country, for your love of people.

Mr. Seaga is an inspirational leader; they say, “Inspirational leaders believe in the future. They are able to paint a vivid picture of a different and better reality. They make it concrete, so people can see it, touch it, smell it, and taste it. They give people hope that things can be better, and they have a plan for making it so.”

Mr. Seaga you did just that and Jamaica is better off because of it.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you.

 

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