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Minister of Tourism's Address
Olympic Athletes Reception at the Ritz Carlton
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
(Jamaican Happenings & Events)

The Hon. Edmund Bartlett - Minister of Tourism's Address at the Olympic Athletes Reception at the Ritz Carlton - Jamaican Happenings & Events - Negril Travel Guide, Negril Jamaica WI - -!
Jamaica's Minister of Tourism - The Hon. Edmund Bartlett


Prime Minister Hon. Bruce Golding, Minister of Information, Sports, Youth & Culture: The Hon. Olivia "Babsy" Grange, Members of the Tourism Family, Members of the Sporting Fraternity, Member of the Media, Our Beijing Superstars, Ladies and Gentleman:

Good Evening. I would like to welcome you here and thank you for joining us today to celebrate our Athletes who represented us so magnificently at the recent Beijing Olympics. I am extremely delighted to be a part of these celebrations, as I am certain the entire Jamaica and everyone here shares this sentiment.

We are here this evening to highlight not only the International fame that these young Athletes have brought upon us, but to thank them for their efforts and determination and for holding true to their dreams.

Ladies and Gentleman:

What makes us Jamaicans?

Our determination, persistence, passion and pride that we take in ourselves and our country, our ability to excel in whatever task we are given.... Jamaicans far and wide at home and abroad stands tall on the WORLD STAGE.

Our spirit...

Our Athletes have come from all walks of Jamaican Life, from riversides to mountains, from yam fields, to the sea... Athletes, we salute you!!!

You have all done us proud. And I'm not sure that proud is the most accurate description for what Jamaicans at home and abroad and what we felt in Beijing. It goes far far far beyond that. I can't express the elation, sense of pride and patriotism and sense of togetherness that your performance brought about at home, the pictures from Half Way Tree alone were astounding!

Athletes, your performance was outstanding and put Jamaica at the forefront of everyone's mind. People who never know where Jamaica was knew that and a whole lot more about us when we left Beijing.

"We likkle, but we tallawah!"

We are a force to be reckoned with. We ranked thirteenth (13th) at this year's Olympics. Thirteenth (13th) for a small country (as we are) is an immense achievement. Jamaica walked away from the Beijing Olympics with a record number of medals; and (of course I should be boasting!) an enviable number of World and Olympic Records.

Stars, You gave Jamaicans reason to fly our flags high, hold our heads up high and to say "Yes, I'm proud to be Jamaica!"

Congratulating The Athletes

Special Congratulations to our Athletes namely: Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell and by extension our long standing Olympian Donald Quarrie who received Order of Distinction, Commander Class for Excellence throughout their years of performance. AUDIENCE, PLEASE JOIN ME IN EXTENDING ANOTHER ROUND OF APPLAUSE.

I would also like to extend further congratulations to the other Athletes who received the Order of Distinction, Officer Class, Gold Medalist and All Athletes who medal at the games for their outstanding performance. They will also be recognized tonight once again.

What makes us Jamaican? Our Food

Thanks Usain for highlighting our food, when asked what a contributing factor to your performance was.

Jamaica is known worldwide for its diverse cuisine, for being spicy and full of flavor, our jerked chicken, curried goat, ackee and saltfish, our patties, steamed fish.... Never before has so much buzz been created about that little tuber called YAM.

Our Athlete's performance and their being clean and free of performance enhancing drugs, despite the dozens of blood testing, had everyone wondering why should they be performing so well, what is the reason behind it...? Did they not figure drive, intense training... But there must be more... diets, lifestyle, state of mind... now, we have International researchers trying to study the properties of yam! Can you imagine!

Nevertheless, Athletes:

Tourism & Beijing

You have made my job ( and that of the Jamaica Tourist Board's) somewhat easier. You helped us the take Jamaica 'to the World' so that the World can come to Jamaica.

When we went to Beijing, we had specific marketing goals and objectives in mind, but your performance there really took us to a whole 'nother' level. China, as you may know represents one of the 'Emerging Markets': it is one of the most spectacular example of growth in the global economy, and signals a myriad of opportunities for Jamaica, and not only tourism opportunities.

So, our starting point was a strategic one. Our overall aim was economic yes, but with that we would gain wider societal benefits through closer partnerships and a better relationship with China. Our mission was to put Jamaica out there, so to speak, to sensitize China (through Tour Operator, travel agents, and other holiday makers) about Jamaica...

Well, that we did, but you guys really made it seem less like "work" for us.

World's First's Launched in Beijing by the Jamaica Tourist Board

We, (JTB) also launched initiatives the World had never seen before there in Beijing: We launched a Loyalty Card, and THE World Beach Sprint set to take place next year, 2009 in Negril and most importantly Jamaica will stage the prestigious World Athletics Award of April 2009.

Sports Tourism

This is an area, where before, no one gave much credence to: it was left under the carpet and not many people saw the opportunities that is could have for our economy. Now, of course, all that has changed and my colleague Minister, along with my Ministry, are now pursuing this partnership and ironing out some plans. Several key players have been sold on the idea and are now realizing that positive opportunities that can arise from this unexplored area.

The Negril Beach Sprint, scheduled for November 2009, will be one to watch, as we are expecting quite a few International Athletes and their friends and families to participate in a few friendly races on the beach.

We got a lot more exposure than we thought we would have going there. You have helped to position Jamaica as a prime destination option for China and for the rest of the World, especially those who got a chance to meet a Jamaican...

Your performance has strengthened the power of Brand Jamaica and Destination Jamaica!


Well, I won't keep you too long, back to reveling in the afterglow our our Athletes' performance!

So to our star team: I thank you for showcasing Jamaica in such a positive light. Enjoy and revel in these celebrations being staged in your honour. You deserve this and so much more.

I congratulate and praise you all for your accomplishments and encourage you to put your head and heart to your future endeavours With that attitude you will succeed.

(Turns to International Media)

To our visitors and International media here wondering what's in the water, or in our food, or in the air... what makes Jamaicans so great.... This is the answer to you all...

"Once you go, you know!"


Ladies and Gentleman, I could not close without acknowledging the work of an important organization whose efforts helped make this evening's event possible. I speak of the Jamaica Athletic Association - the J-AAA's and its sterling contribution to sport and the development of Jamaica's Athletes throughout the years. In recognition of your efforts, the Ministry of Tourism in association with its agencies would like to present this plaque for the excellence in leadership provided by the Jamaica Athletics Association to the Jamaican Athletes who performed outstanding in the 13th staging of the Olympics 2008, Beijing China. I invite a representative of the J-Three A to come forward for the presentation.

(At this point, the Hon. Minister makes the presentation to the J-Three A representative)

Thank you.

Ladies and Gentleman: Please enjoy the rest of this evening's festivities.

Jamaica's Olympic Athlete's Homecoming Celebrations, hosted by The Government of Jamaica and sponsored by Digicel

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