September 11 Digital Archive

Jamaica launches probe into allegations of corruption at Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association


Jamaica launches probe into allegations of corruption at Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association



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Jamaica launches probe into allegations of corruption at Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association

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Tony Best

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New York Carib News

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With a plethora of allegations of corruption swirling around Jamaicas Tourist Boards (JTB) office in New York, Jamaicas Ministry of Tourism and Sport has moved to get to the bottom of the charges.

The claims in a lengthy unsigned letter included: suggestions of criminal behavior by some top tourist board officials; misappropriation and misapplication of taxpayers money; conspiracy to commit fraud; the use of JTB money to promote and enhance private business ventures and to fund an election campaign of a politician seeking elective office in the New York; abuse of privilege; reckless and unwarranted expenditure on activities which were totally unrelated to the countrys tourism industry.

What we have done is asked the Tourist Boards Chief Internal Auditor to go up to New York and investigate these allegations, Loraine Robinson, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, told reporters. We are hoping for the auditors report by the end of this week, she explained.

In addition, Robinson pointed out that the nations auditor-general and the Ministry of Finance were informed about the recent developments. We are investigating the claims, she added.

For more than a week, Jamaicans at home, in the United States and elsewhere, have been reading the details of a seven-page e-mail which credits a source who works closely with the Jamaican Tourist Boards advertising head office in New York with saying that senior officials had recklessly managed the resources of the government agency, so much so that the board cannot fulfill its primary function to promote Jamaica overseas.

The e-mail complained of wrongdoings and areas of gross misconduct and detailed several alleged instances of crooked actions and executive irresponsibility.

For instance, the author of the letter accused an official of arbitrarily spending thousands of taxpayer dollars to buy tables for assorted useless events in New York that have nothing to do with tourism and uses the events to entertain friends, family and personal business pursuits to the exclusion of other JTB staff members. In another case, JTB officials were accused of shifting business to companies which charged inflated rates in order to provide kickbacks to a few board executives.

Because tourism is Jamaicas main income, on which the country heavily depends, it cannot be allowed for these persons to remain in office, stated the email.

The allegations and probe drew reactions from prominent people in Jamaica. Edmond Bartlett, the Opposition Jamaica Labor Partys spokesman on tourism and environment, is demanding what he called a forensic auditor of JTB operations and the activities of the agencys New York operations.

While praising Portia Simpson-Miller, the Minister of Tourism and Sport, for moving swiftly to look into the claims, the JLP official demanded the release of the names of the investigators and their terms of reference. It was important for the image of the industry and the country that the matter be cleared up with great dispatch, he said. Transparency was needed, he said, because of the industrys importance and the fact that the allegations surfaced at a time when tourism was reeling from internal troubles. However, Josef Forstmayr, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, is urging people not to rush to judgment in the wake of the allegations.

Forstmayr prefers to await the outcome of the investigation and therefore avoid making people look dishonest when they are not dishonest at all. As he saw it, Theres nothing worse than a kangaroo court.

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“Jamaica launches probe into allegations of corruption at Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association,” September 11 Digital Archive, accessed December 5, 2022,