Jamaica missing out on gay billions, says J’can scholar

Jamaica is losing billions of dollars by ignoring the lucrative gay tourism market, said United Kingdom-based Jamaican scholar, Dr Donna Chambers, sister of dub poet, Mutabaruka.
Tourism stakeholders, the lecturer declared, must determine if they could continue to ignore this market estimated at US$65 billion, or five per cent of the annual US$1.3 trillion global tourism market.
“Can Jamaica afford not to market itself to lucrative gay travel in an increasingly competitive global tourism market?” Chambers, a lecturer in Tourism at the University of Surrey, asked in a speech at the 2008 ACS Crossroads seminar last week at the University of the West Indies, Mona.
She said that Jamaica could earn a sizeable percentage of the market based on its comparative advantage in tourism. But she cautioned that first a “sanctioned gay space”, must be established, otherwise “it cannot happen”.
Two years ago, a transsexual porn star berated a risque hotel chain for cancelling its planned party in Jamaica.
“I thought it would be great, unique, and something that would be profitable (since it has never been done before),” the porn star blogged on an online forum. “It really makes me angry, but it’s their loss. ENTIRELY.”
Chambers noted that gay travel brochures warned about the risk of visiting countries such as Jamaica and claimed that this “anti-gay perception was not confined to homosexuals but fed into heterosexual minds as well”.
“And that image will impact not only on the gays attracted but on the straight visitors attracted, particularly as the gay lobby comes down more and more powerfully,” she charged.
Chambers further asked: “To what extent can Jamaica say it embraces global tourism and at the same time exclude an important and lucrative niche market? [Also] can the economic imperative precipitate cultural change?”

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Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

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