New regulations could be coming for Jamaican travel agents
KINGSTON, Jamaica. Tuesday April 10, 2012 – The Jamaica Travel Agencies Act has been described as “out-dated” by Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Dr Wykeham McNeill.
In a recent message to the Jamaica Association of Travel Agents’ (JATA) delivered at their annual general meeting in Ocho Rios, on his behalf by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment Jennifer Griffith, Dr McNeill advocated that the act should be amended to suit the current market environment, and he promised renewed consultation to allow for input by local travel agents in the amendment process.
The Minister said “we know that the Act, which was framed in 1956, is now grossly outdated and must be brought up to date,” pointing out that “this crucial piece of legislation was amended last year to increase the fines and sanctions in order to provide a deterrent to illegal operators of travel agencies.” On the issue of further amendments he said, “we must continue to discuss these issues together and agree on the necessary amendments.”
An issue which he singled out for amendment is that of Branch Offices, which the Act does not recognize. “This has led to the introduction of Reservation Centres by JATA members where travel arrangements are made for clients,” the Minister noted. In offering a solution, he emphasized that “this matter can be resolved through the recognition of branch offices by further amending the Act.”
Minister McNeill also urged JATA members to explore ways to sell destination Jamaica and tap into the local market. He said “as a Ministry we stand ready to work along with local travel agents in developing our tourism sector. In terms of growing the local travel industry we believe JATA has a vital role to play in this process.” The Minister added that “it is imperative that the Association moves to develop the local market, while encouraging persons overseas to travel to Jamaica and visit our attractions.”
The Minister underscored that there are numerous opportunities that now exist for the Association to partner with local hotels, ground transportation providers, and attractions to sell local vacations and other attractive packages to Jamaicans as well.
The underlying theme of the Minister’s address to the local travel agents was that of partnership through dialogue, as expressed to all other stakeholders that he has addressed since the start of the year. He told JATA members that “addressing many of your concerns will require intense dialogue.” It was emphasized that consultations which began last year needed to be continued. “We want these discussions to resume quickly so we can chart the way forward together. We look forward to continuing crucial discussions with JATA to explore the opportunities and examine the policies we need to introduce to improve this sub-sector.”