PATRIOT & LOVER OF THE ISLANDS ATTRIBUTES
E. Stuart Sharpe has had extensive experience in almost every phase of the tourist industry in Jamaica and overseas, and as Director of Sales and Promotion of the Jamaica Tourist Board from 1963 until 1967, he traveled widely and was deeply involved in the promotion of the island’s fantastic tourist growth.
Stu, as he is called by friends, was born January 24, 1916, and received his education at the Diocesan High School, Mandeville, and St. George’s College, one of Jamaica’s foremost schools. He also attended a special summer course at the School of Hotel administration, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
His career in the tourist industry started almost immediately after graduating from St. George’s College when he organized Sharpe’s Tropical Tours in Kingston and Montego Bay. His career was temporarily interrupted when he joined the United States Army during World ‘War 11. After discharge, Stuart Sharpe worked with Pan American Airways in Miami, and later went into partnership with Ferdie Martin to form Martin’s Tropical Tours (now called Martin’s Tours – Jamaica’s foremost tour operators.)
In 1949, Stuart Sharpe was appointed Assistant Manager, then Acting Manager of the Tower Isle Hotel in Ocho Rios. He left the Tower Isle to become United States Representative of the Nassau Bahamas Development Board: a post he held until 1951.
In 1951 he returned to Jamaica as Manager of the Silver Seas Hotel in Ocho Rios, a post he held until 1954, when he again left Jamaica to become the Director of Sales of the Gill Hotels in Fort Lauderdale and Nassau. ‘while Director of Sales, Stuart Sharpe was asked’ to form a Tourism Committee within the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, of which he was appointed Chairman.
It was during this period that he created the now famous Fort Lauderdale Ambassadors, and planned all the co-operative promotions for that area between 1955 and 1959. In 1960 Stuart Sharpe again returned to Jamaica to become Managing Director of the Falcondip Hotel in Ocho Rios. In June, 1963.he accepted the appointment as Director of Sales and Promotion in the reorganized Tourist Board, and became a member of its fiveman Government Board.
As Director of Sales and Promotion, Stuart Sharpe was charged with the designing of general policies governing the operation of the Board’s sales organizations in North America, Canada and the United Kingdom, and with the implementation of these policies. Also under his supervision was the operation of a Group Development Bureau; travel agency and wholesaler relationships; the planning, organization, and administration of promotion trips to the United States, Canada, England and Europe. He also represented the Director of Tourism at local and overseas functions.
That E. Stuart Sharpe has made a substantial contribution is without doubt. Jamaica’s tourist indusrv had reached a record low and was much in need of a strong Tourist Board to bring it out of the chaotic situation into which it had lapsed since 1960. Since 1963 the number of tourists visiting Jamaica has increased by over 70 per cent. Particularly impressive is the long-stay visitor increase of some 160 per cent. Estimated tourist income has risen from £13 million to £30 million.
Attributable to Stuart Sharpe’s efforts is the tremendous increase of group travel (16 persons and over), which accounted for 15.6 per cent of all long-stay visitors in 1966. For E. Stuart Sharpe, former Director of Tourism who served the JTB from 1967 to 1970, the development and promotion of Jamaica as an attractive and preferred destination has been a lifelong passion.
A patriot and lover of the island’s attributes from childhood, Stuart Sharpe soon grasped the important role that tourism would play in the economic life of the country. He entered the travel industry by establishing his own tour company at the age of nineteen. After the war and studies in Hotel Management at Cornell University in the United States of America, he joined forces with Ferdie Martin at Martin’s Tropical Tours in 1946.
He later increased his experience in the hospitality industry at the newly built Tower Isle Hotel, now Couples, in other hotels in the Bahamas and Florida, and at the Silver Seas Hotel which he operated from 1951-1964.
Armed with an intimate knowledge of the industry, he was appointed to the position of Deputy Director of Tourism with responsibility for Sales and Promotion at the JTB in 1963, and in partnership with the memorable John Pringle as Director, proceeded to blaze a trail, for Jamaica’s tourism internationally.
As a mark of his accomplishments, Stuart Sharpe was appointed Director of Tourism in 1967; and his acceptance of that: office signaled another significant turning point in the development of the industry.
Building on the initiatives to increase visitor arrivals to the island, Stuart Sharpe also realized the importance of constructing new and diverse facilities to accommodate them. To his lasting credit is the vision which founded the Jamaica Association of Villas and Apartments (JAVA), a concept which not only emphasized product diversity but aimed to encourage small entrepreneurs to invest in tourism.
He is remembered for the importance which he placed on long-term planning and product improvement, his attempts to improve and preserve the Courtesy Corps, to upgrade and modernize the In-Bond system, as well as to encourage the construction of the Ocho Rios by-pass road to facilitate the smooth flow of traffic to and from this popular resort area.
Stuart Shape maintains his interest in Jamaica and continues to promote the island’s attributes at every opportunity. The name E. Stuart Sharpe is one which the Jamaica Tourist Board and the people of Jamaica remember with pride and deep appreciation, for his dedication and lifelong contribution to building Jamaica’s tourism.