DR Carey Wallace often refers to his eldest daughter, Jody-Anne as his big sister. She was born in 1989 when he was 21, just out of university, and they’ve grown up together. Over the years he’s been intrigued by the way their relationship has changed.
“She puts me in my place every once in a while,” the executive director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) tells Jamaica Observer’s LetsTravelCaribbean.com with a wry chuckle.
“A lot of persons think the parent-child relationship is fixed as one who knows more than the other but if you… had kids in your 20s then you’re gonna have 60, 70 years of both of you living this life experience so it’s not necessarily the case where the one that is 20 years older happens to have all this wealth of additional knowledge. Once early in the game you start respecting their opinions and approaching things as if they’re adults themselves, then I think you’ll get a lot more harmony in the relationship.”
That’s just one of the many lessons he’s learnt over the years from raising his five children. After Jody-Anne came his 28-year-old son Canaan followed by three more girls — 21-year-old Whitney, 19-year-old Wynne-Elle, and 16 year-old Willow-Ann. The proud father explains that Whitney is finishing up at Bristol University in the UK and Wynne-Elle has been accepted to Central Saint Martin’s, “the top fashion school in London”. Willow-Ann is still in high school in Jamaica.
The family also includes Wallace’s two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter Olivia and eighteen month-old grandson Benjamin; and there is another grandchild on the way. This makes for very lively Zoom calls when the family gets together to catch up on what’s happening in each other’s lives.
These thoroughly enjoyed calls have become more frequent these days as Wallace works with his son Canaan on an entrepreneurial venture the youngster has launched in Negril. Wallace is keeping the details of the tourism-related project close to his chest for now but his son’s entrepreneurial spirit is something he wishes more Jamaicans would share. True wealth, he is convinced, is at the ownership level, something that can be passed on to the next generation.
“I would like to see more Jamaicans enter that space of ownership and entrepreneurship. It’s riskier, yes I know, but the opportunities are here now,” he declares.
“I see tremendous opportunities in tourism in Jamaica as we evolve with the pace of which the large investments are coming in and the need for First World supplies to these large hotels, for instance. I believe there’s a lot of scope for tourism entrepreneurship to provide those supplies and provide those services to the large hotels, and at First World standards… It’s opened up tremendous opportunities for Jamaicans who can operate businesses — and to that standard — and so all young persons in Jamaica, I would invite to explore these opportunities here,” he adds.
There are also gains to be made, he believes, from offering services the larger hotels do not provide. His drive to see Jamaicans grab hold of these and other opportunities in the tourism sector is what makes him excited to get each work day started, he says.
“I want to build that environment that is an awesome island of opportunity — peaceful, prosperous — not just for my children but for all children, for all of Jamaica. I really think we deserve that,” Wallace says.