From a melting pot of multifarious tourism service providers in Jamaica, Yard Tour Jamaica ranks itself among the island’s finest excursion companies . The rapidly rising private tour and vacation expedition firm, founded and managed by Kimmarley Mckoy Whyte, prides itself on its commitment to professionalism, integrity, class and customer satisfaction.Like Kimmarley and so many others, tourism in Jamaica provides an essential opportunity for locals to earn a living without regard to their educational background, gender, skills or political affiliations. In 2019 alone, Jamaica had over 4.2 million visitors generating over 2 billion in revenue. Kimmarley, who moved to Montego Bay in 2017, a popular worldwide tourist destination located on the north coast of Jamaica, grew up in Havana Heights, Clarendon, where he spent most of his childhood years.
The former lifeguard who worked at Chukka Cove and Iberostar for several years before setting his sights on the Tourism industry, shared how he developed a passion for helping others after having favorable casual experiences with tourists who had intentions of hanging out with locals while vacationing on the island. “I was motivated just by meeting genuine people who really wanted to experience the authentic side of Jamaica. “I met a lot of people who are really into our culture,”Kimmarley told Disrupt Magazine.
Yard Tour Jamaica is now viewed as a premier tourist excursion provider in Jamaica, hiring three full time employees and offering various amenities such as jet ski rides, horseback riding, bamboo rafting, limestone massage, fishing trips, and gift shopping. Despite the company’s success, Kimmarley Whyte, the company’s founder, and CEO who transformed his part time gig into an organization that currently offers over 16 services, shared how his early genesis as a tour guide was an uphill battle. After complimenting and guiding hundreds of satisfied tourists on their vacation experiences, the former Havana Heights native never ceased to forget his humble beginnings.
According to the former lifeguard, his initial experiences and circumstances propelled him into fulfilling a rare self-employment opportunity.”I started renting cars to take clients on tours. It was not always on an upward trajectory. When I had my full time job it was a struggle as I would lose faith when things got difficult. Actually, it was not until the pandemic hit that I realized that my job was not a necessity and that I could survive on my own if I committed to my own business. When Covid-19 came, I put my head down, promoted religiously, and went on to purchase my first car. The rest is history,”, Kimmarley said.
With the influx of visitors to the island, new opportunities and services are created daily to compensate for the rising tourist capacity, many of which require hotels, tour guides, transportation, resorts, food and other amenities to supplement their vacation. Increases in tourist numbers pave the way for aspiring service businesses and individuals on the island to claim a stake and get their feet wet in a potentially profitable industry. While Kimmarley agrees that there is room for everyone, he argues that the influx of new tour guides and their practices may prove detrimental to the tourism industry in the long term. “You know, I love this industry, I love this island and I love what I do, but a lot of the new tour guides are offering ridiculous prices that devalue the product of Jamaica. I believe that Jamaica is a valuable island; it’s a worldwide treasure, and we should not undermine and sell our resources for cheap prices just to obtain clients”, Kimmarley told Disrupt Magazine.
Unfortunately, the sentiments shared by Kimmarley add to a wider problem, the problem of poverty which exists in conjunction with tourism in Jamaica. As visitors from all over the world flock to the island to explore and experience the wonders that the country has to offer, a wave of impoverished and inexperienced tourist service providers erupts to seek a slice of the cake. In a desperate effort to attract clients to their services at all costs due to a lack of alternative job opportunities and income streams, they are forced to offer prices that are way below market value. According to Kimmarley, this unfortunate conundrum makes it extremely difficult for tour services such as Yard Tour Jamaica to uphold a dignified standard. He went further to suggest that “while competitors gain a few clients in the short term, they are vastly undermining the value of Jamaica”.