Damian Crawford, Minister of State, Tourism
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Wykeham McNeill has the ear of minister with responsibility for information Sandrea Falconer during a post-Olympics media briefing last week. – Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer – Gleaner
Tyrone Reid, Senior Staff Reporter
Govt not able to provide breakdown of £1 million spend at London Olympics
Although unable to provide a breakdown of how £1 million (J$140 million) was used at the just-concluded London Olympics, the Government’s chief spokesperson, Sandrea Falconer, is unwavering in the claim that the money was well spent.
Falconer, the minister with responsibility for information, told The Sunday Gleaner that if there is no return on Jamaica’s $140 million investment on activities “to capitalise on the London Olympics and celebrate Jamaica 50” then the Government should be held accountable.
However, Falconer pleaded for patience.
“Nothing happens overnight. We need to stop being our own worst enemy,” she said.
“Allow them time to pan out. If they don’t pan we (the Government) must be called to book but we need to give it time,” added Falconer, in reaction to questions from our news team about how the money was spent.
Falconer reiterated the Government’s claim that it had to find only £850,000 from its coffers as £150,000 came in the form of sponsorship.
Airfare, accommodation NOT INCLUDED
The information minister also pointed out that the £850,000 spent in London did not include airfare and accommodation for the ministers and the other members of the delegation.
This means the Government spent more than £850,000 on the entire promotional push.
“It was not a part of it. Each of the ministries that sent representatives paid for their own thing,” said Falconer, who explained that she did not have the breakdown of the expenditure because she “was not in the day to day of what happened”.
The information minister then referred our news team to Mark Thomas at JAMPRO.
When our news team contacted Thomas he was unable to provide the breakdown as the minister had said he could.
“I don’t have the breakdown of the budget as this was being managed by the JTB (Jamaica Tourist Board) but I can provide information on the business events and meetings we staged in the UK during the Olympics,” he noted.
Thomas then suggested that our news team contact Jason Hall, deputy director of tourism in charge of attraction, cruise and events, or John Lynch, director of tourism, at the JTB.
A call placed to the JTB revealed that Lynch was off the island. A detailed message was left for Hall but he did not return our call.
There has been mixed reaction since the revelation of the millions spent to host ‘Jamaica House’ in London during the Olympics.
Some members of the public and the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party have argued that the Government used taxpayers’ money to throw one big party in London’s O2 Arena.
This claim was fuelled by a tweet posted by Damion Crawford, junior minister in the tourism and entertainment ministry.
During the games of the 30th Olympiad, the state minister, who was also in London, tweeted that he and some Jamaican entertainers just “shell dung” a club, that is to say, took it by storm.
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Wykeham McNeill has the ear of minister with responsibility for information Sandrea Falconer during a post-Olympics media briefing last week. – Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer