"Can Jamaica afford not to market itself to lucrative gay travel in an increasingly competitive global tourism market?" Chambers, a lecturer in Tourism at the University of Surrey, asked in a speech at the 2008 ACS Crossroads seminar last week at the University of the West Indies, Mona.
She said that Jamaica could earn a sizeable percentage of the market based on its comparative advantage in tourism. But she cautioned that first a "sanctioned gay space", must be established, otherwise "it cannot happen".
Two years ago, a transsexual porn star berated a risque hotel chain for cancelling its planned party in Jamaica.
"Our hotels have always welcomed. We don't necessarily place ads advertising that we accept the LGBT, but we would never turn back persons because of their sexual preferences," said a Negril hotelier, who added that there is really no difference from how the LGBT market was treated by the average hotel 20 years ago.
"The industry has always been more tolerant than the rest of the society," said the hotelier, adding that there are many gays working in the tourism sector, so it's no big news.
Another hotelier says Jamaica is not ready for this market, which is a big mistake. "I have tried to target them in the past, but I have given up, because it's a hard sell, particularly because of our homophobic reputation," said the hotelier.
She said if members of the LGBT community were to turn up at her property they wouldn't be turned back. She admits that the market has huge potential of pumping foreign exchange into the island's coffers.