The Craft Council was set up in 2014 by Dr McNeill and included representatives/presidents from all the craft markets, the owners and operators of the markets, artisans and representatives from the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo).
The traders expressed their frustration and dissatisfaction with the treatment being meted out to them, at a recent meeting initiated and organized by the all island craft traders association to which Dr. McNeill was invited.
They said that they were being treated with scant regard by the Minister of Tourism and outlined three primary areas of concern:
- The apparent disbanding of the Craft Council, which gave the members an avenue for meaningful input into the development of their sector.
- Minister Bartlett’s insistence on forging ahead with artisan villages - a concept that has not been properly explained to the sector and with which the all island association has real concerns.
- A lack of meaningful dialogue with the Minister/Ministry on the development of the Sector in general.
“Eighty (80) million dollars were allocated from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) in the first year to assist with the upgrading, management, training and importantly, the marketing of the industry and sector. The stakeholders were in charge of the governing process and would determine how best to develop the sector. This approach ensured they would have real input in determining their future and fortunes,” said Dr. McNeill.
He further explained that Minister Bartlett on assuming office disbanded the council and that this has had a deleterious effect on the morale of the stakeholders island wide.
“I am therefore calling on Minister Bartlett to reinstate the Council as it represents a good participatory governance model and ensures meaningful dialogue with all the stakeholders. It is important that we move with alacrity to find a speedy resolution to the growing discontent currently being experienced in the sector as the traders have expressed that their patience is waning,” Dr McNeill said.
The nation’s craft industry has always played an integral role in the development of the tourism sector and deserves to be treated with fairness and respect.
The Tourism Shadow Minister said everything must be done to ensure that we are not only bringing visitors to the island, but also that our stakeholders at all levels benefit from the industry.
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