Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Cabinet approves JTB Board
Jamaica Observer
Tuesday, November 19, 2002


The Cabinet yesterday approved nine additional members to the board of directors of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), ending weeks of speculation and setting the stage for a refocusing of the embattled agency.

The new members are:
. Paul Pennicook, president and CEO of Couples Resorts;
. Christopher Zacca, deputy chairman and CEO of Air Jamaica;
. Zein Nakash, vice-president, marketing and environmental affairs for SuperClubs;
. Carolyn Wright, who chairs the Negril chapter of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association;
. Josef Forstmayr, the JHTA president;
. O K Melhado, director, Manufacturers/Sigma Merchant Bank and a former JTB chairman;
. Jason Henzell, managing director, Jakes Hotels and Villas;
. Michael Muirhead, a senior executive at National Commercial Bank, who will chair the JTB's Finance Committee; and
. Ohene Blake, an IT specialist, and who is at present the project co-ordinator for business re-engineering at the Office of the Prime Minister.
They will join newly-appointed JTB chairman, Dennis Morrison, while the administration awaits the final two candidates who, the Observer has learnt, are being sought from the villas and attractions sub-sectors.

Yesterday, Sandals Resorts International chairman Gordon "Butch" Stewart said that the appointment of the new JTB Board provided another opportunity for the industry to regain its focus, and pledged his full support in any strategy aimed at bringing back bouyancy to the tourism industry.
"Starting with the new chairman, this is perhaps the best effort in years to structure an effective tourist board. The inclusion of O K Melhado, an outstanding past chairman of the JTB, is constructive," said Stewart in a statement yesterday.

He said, however, that given the fact that the JTB's primary duty is the marketing of Jamaica, the board could be strengthened by additional persons who are knowledgeable in tourism marketing. "I encouraged the authorities to take steps to balance the board in that regard," said Stewart.
With the board now almost complete, the government is now searching for a director of tourism, following on the decision by Fay Pickersgill not to renew her contract next January.

Pickersgill is currently on vacation and the administration is known to be eyeing Pennicook, who most persons in the industry regard as the best choice for the job.
"We'd be fortunate as a country to lure Paul away from the private sector," said SuperClubs vice-president Joe Issa yesterday. "The industry would welcome him."
Over the years, Pennicook has won respect within the sector for his intelligence, deep knowledge of the industry and thrift.

He has held senior executive positions with the SuperClubs and Sandals chains and, according to one industry source, if given the job to run the JTB, would ensure that its budget is properly spent.
Budget spending was one of the issues over which the JTB and the industry quarrelled in recent times after Stewart accused the agency of spending too much on administration instead of on advertising and promoting Jamaica.

But Pickersgill had consistently argued that her organisation was always limited by budget constraints and that the JTB was actually understaffed.
Since the winter of 1999, the JTB has been forced, each year, to seek additional funding from the government to mount advertising campaigns, irritating the local industry which has harshly criticised the administration for what appeared as indifference to the sector.