Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says he is to start today meeting with key tourism stakeholders as part of efforts to discuss concerns raised about entertainers hired within hotels.
Mr. Bartlett is expected to be one of three Government ministers addressing claims of increased numbers of foreigners being involved in running local hotel entertainment events, among other issues.
A statement from the Ministry of Tourism said Minister of Entertainment and Culture Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange and Minister of Labour Shahine Robinson are expected to also seek to ventilate the issues and work toward solutions.
For the last month or so, spokespersons for entertainment performers especially on the North Coast have been complaining that there are reduced opportunities for work for local entertainers who they say are being displaced on hotel shows by foreigners.
The matter blew up last week with a video that went viral making claims against Sandals hotel chain and others. There were several allegations about how the chain manages its entertainment portfolio and claims about low wage rates for local entertainers. Entertainers have also been stating that some foreign chains are bringing in foreigners for their entertainment departments and shows.
Sandals has since denied those claims pointing to its long involvement with hiring Jamaican entertainers and its moves to regularize its offerings at a high standard across its properties.
The group issuing the video also accused the Tourism Minister of not being proactive in the issue. In a statement today (Wednesday, June 13) Mr. Bartlett said: “I will be meeting today with members of the Tourism Linkages Council with a specific focus on the Sports and Entertainment Network. The meeting is to review, clarify and discuss concerns raised regarding entertainers hired within hotels,” said Minister Bartlett.
Mr. Bartlett added that “It is important that any misleading information is resolved and that every tourism worker feels empowered and included within the Tourism value chain. We will also be looking closely at the demand for entertainers within the sector, the number of local entertainers, and challenges being faced among other things.”
The minister also said he has always been an advocate of providing more economic opportunities for “small and medium-sized tourism businesses and enterprises, which includes entertainers, within the tourism value chain.”
According to the release from the Ministry of Tourism, Mr. Bartlett’s efforts will be followed up with engagements by Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange with entertainment stakeholders and Labour and Social Security Minister, Shahine Robinson to “dissect the broad range of issues and ultimately address all concerns.”
By Franklin McKnight