Negril Destination Assurance Council Public Meeting @ Negril Community Centre
Negril Destination Assurance Council (DAC) Public Town Hall Meeting
On Wednesday, March 29, 2018, the second Destination Assurance Council (DAC) public Town Hall meeting was held at the Negril Community Centre on Norman Manley Boulevard. Negril DAC appointed Council members Elaine Bradley, Chair and Ken Cooney were present. Council members Christine Cohen and Gilbert Fender were not in attendance. The Tourism Product Development Company Limited (TPDCo), responsible for coordinating the work of governmental and non-governmental agencies in Negril DAC resort areas, was represented by Lionel Myrie, Destination Manager and Administrative Assistant, Nichola Miller-Taylor. The meeting scheduled to begin at 2:00 PM started around 2:30 PM after waiting for additional community members to arrive. During the waiting period, Elaine Bradley suggested that those present introduce themselves and let everyone in attendance “know, who is who”. She introduced Lionel Myrie who became DAC Destination Manager as of the first of February, and Nichola Miller-Taylor, administrative Assistant of Negril TPDCo, as recording secretary. Ken Cooney introduce himself and then community members/stakeholder followed suit with introductions.
When the meeting started, Elaine Bradley mentioned that she was “sorry for the overdue public meeting” since the last one was on August 30th. She went on to state that “we cannot have meetings just for the sake of meetings, I think we have to see some progress and if we don’t we come back and discuss the same thing over and over and over” and since there were not any significant activities to report there have not been any DAC public meetings held. She stated that even though there had not been any public meetings the Destination Assurance Council members had been meeting behind the scenes during that period. It was suggested that since between public meetings, community members/stakeholders are not aware of what was happening, that the DAC should consider sending out minutes of their meetings for viewing so that individuals would know what is happening and be able to make comments and suggestions to the Council. Elaine Bradley stated that it was a good suggestion and instructed Nichola to send out minutes to individuals after Council meetings so that the public can see that and what they are doing behind the scenes to get things improved. Council Member Ken Cooney suggested that community members/stakeholders after reading Council minutes showing what the Council is trying to accomplish, should correspond with the Council as to what they see is happening, or not happening. Elaine Bradley stated that the Council would set up an E-mail list and community members/stakeholders on that list would receive E-mails showing Council activities during their nonpublic DAC meetings.
Destination Manager, Lionel Myrie stated that the role of the DAC is basically an advisory board appointed by the Minister of Tourism, so the board reports directly to the Minister of Tourism. The role, purpose of the DAC is to coordinate all Government Agencies within the destination to enhance and develop the tourism product with their designated areas. His role as Destination Manager was basically as a facilitator in this process.
Amongst the attendees, there was a large contingent of Lucea / Hanover stakeholders in attendance from the Lucea Development Initiative and Lucea Advancement Group voicing concerns that Lucea / Hanover issues might not get sufficient attention by DAC, and that DAC was mainly concentrating on the Negril resort area issues. Chair, Elaine Bradley assured them that the Negril DAC designated area of authority went from Hopewell Hanover to Whitehouse Westmoreland areas and that DAC would address issues arising within the total area of its authority. Lee Issa suggested that DCA meetings could be held in Lucea and the Whitehouse area. Elaine Bradley and Lionel Myrie agreed and stated a location in Lucea would be found to host the next DAC meeting.
A major topic of discussion by community members/stakeholders centered on garbage collection activities or lack of garbage collection in a scheduled timely manner. Many emphasized the difficulties they were having in getting the National Solid Waste Authority to follow through with scheduled or promised garbage pickup. A representative from the NSWA was present and addressed many of the issues raised. Garbage collection is consistently an issue raised at Community and Negril Chamber of Commerce meetings.
You can listen to, and view thirty-six minutes of YouTube.com video of the March 28, 2018 Destination Assurance Council public Town Hall meeting at the Negril Community Centre posted on my YouTube.com channel at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag9yqIrTq5k.
Authors Footnote: Prior to the DAC meeting, I communicated with DCA Chair Elaine Bradley, with Destination Manager Lionel Myrie, and Nichola Miller-Taylor, administrative Assistant of Negril TPDCo present about videotaping the meeting. Elaine Bradley stated that they were just discussing my videotaping the DAC meeting, agreed to my doing so, and felt that it would be a worthwhile endeavour as the video would provide an excellent opportunity for individuals to see what happens at a DAC meeting. I was able to video about thirty-six minutes of the meeting when I was requested to stop the videotaping. I was told by the Destination Manager Lionel Myrie to stop videotaping, and Elaine Bradley that they had just received a message from “Head Office, that the videotaping should stop”. I objected to that request stating that I felt it was against Freedom of the Press since I was attending this meeting, not only as a Member / Director of the Negril Chamber of Commerce but as a Press Photojournalist and this was a public meeting. However, in deference to the request by the Chair, I stopped videotaping the meeting. Hopefully, the Freedom of the Press issue will be addressed and resolved so that I will be able to videotape future DCA public meeting for your viewing.