Simmons returns to roots with tourism
Opposition MP Jamahl Simmons said he was returning to his roots by taking up the role of Shadow Minister of Tourism in the House of Assembly.
The Sandys South MP, who has also taken over economic development in this week's Shadow Cabinet reshuffle, said he got his first experience catering to guests in his parents' shop at Stonington Beach.
“Flash forward to my time as an adult, working closely with the minister Ewart Brown — this has been part of my life for many, many years,” Mr Simmons said.
This week he assumed the portfolios of Zane DeSilva and Wayne Furbert respectively after the two quit their posts in the Progressive Labour Party.
Mr Simmons said he had contacted the Bermuda Tourism Authority, Bermuda Hospitality Institute and Bermuda Entertainment Union on his first day, adding: “I have had very good predecessors in this role, but wanted to come in fresh.”
Mr DeSilva had frequently taken the BTA to task, especially on bonuses, and Mr Simmons said the Opposition would continue to hold the BTA accountable for spending, as well as “getting to know their challenges”.
“We're putting taxpayers' dollars in their hands and we need to see that it's being put in the right places.”
Mr Simmons also concurred with his predecessor's contention that the Island was being insufficiently marketed overseas, saying the Island's competitors were “spending a lot of money getting their names in front of an many people as possible”, while Bermuda had been “falling off customers' minds”.
On economic development, he stressed the urgency of drawing investors to Bermuda, adding: “Our priority in the PLP is that Bermudians have a fair shot, whether it is jobs, management positions or ownership. It's about getting our people back to work and getting them fully involved.
“One of my constituents gave me a newspaper from 1970, in which they were talking about black Bermudians coming back to Bermuda with an education and being unable to get work.
“This is an issue that has been raised by various commissions, and yet it's still being said by our children when they come back home. There are less opportunities now than there were back then.
“We have to find a way to address that. You never want to have children looking at their parents and asking what's the point of going through all this education, spending all this money, and not having opportunities.”