Kingston, Jamaica, November 30, 2017: Opposition Spokesman on Tourism Dr. Wykeham McNeill is calling on Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett to clarify concerns that have been raised in the public sphere about the recently concluded UNWTO conference in Montego Bay, St. James woefully underperformed based on stated expectations.
In order to satisfy public curiosity, Dr. McNeill is asking Minister Bartlett to answer a number of questions. These questions, according to Dr. McNeill, if answered simply, should put to rest the comments that have been swirling around. His questions are:
- Is it true that a mere 252 overseas delegates attended instead of the 1000 as was originally touted? And that the only other overseas attendees were the 110 paid and sponsored presenters and media giving a total of only 362 persons from abroad?
- Is it true that only a handful of Ministers came, instead of the over 100 promised and that they were mostly from the Caribbean and Latin American region?
- And finally, is it true that in excess of the 125 million dollars allocated for the staging of this conference; did the Minister return to Cabinet for additional funds for other related expenses and overruns. If so can he indicate the total cost to the Jamaican people?
From as far back as March this year, Dr. McNeill had raised questions about the extravagant cost of hosting the event. He is concerned that value for money would not have been realised if in fact less than a third of the promised attendees showed up. It is understood that additional monies had to be found to offset the over expenditure of the original budget.
“I believe more information and clarity is required so we can determine whether we can justify the expenditure and assure the country that the benefits to accrue will be worth it,” McNeill said.