Everyone’s Friend in Jamaica and Beyond: Remembering the Late Clive Taffe

It was about two years when I was on a week-long assignment in Jamaica to cover the country’s 50th year of independence from a tourism prospective and was given my own, personal guide to help shape and mold my coverage by facilitating interviews with Jamaica’s most influential tourism figures.

Clive Taffe, a longtime consultant with the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), was an older, bigger guy with a strong, tough face but a childlike smile. It was like pulling teeth to get him to talk about anything in length …unless the subject was Jamaica. Then it was difficult to get him to stop.

And although Taffe passed away earlier this month at the age of 69, his spirit still lives on in the many lives he affected in Jamaica and beyond. 

I’m sure locals on the island are already telling tales of Taffe, a taskmaster of sorts who could pull strings by using his strong Jamaican connections so he could do favors for friends and colleagues. 

The Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), in an official statement, praised Taffe for being the only JTB employee to work with every Jamaican tourism director. But Taffe was not just close with some of Jamaica’s top officials, he was also a friend to anyone who had a hand in making Jamaica the tourism giant that is today.

Sure, he made sure I talked to everyone in the top level of the JTB during my coverage of the 50th anniversary, but he also made sure I spoke to everyone from the ladies working the craft markets to the porters at the airport to the cab drivers. 

In an official statement, Dennis Morrison, chairman of the JTB, said “Clive served the Jamaica Tourist Board for a remarkable 50 years. This was not limited to the geographic borders of Jamaica, as he held key positions in Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles as sales representative, district manager and regional manager. The entire organization regrets his passing and extends condolences to his family. We will never see another Clive Taffe.”

During Taffe’s tenure, the Midwest region grew exponentially. His commitment to the industry continued after retirement as he also served as consultant to the director of tourism. In recognition of his unstinting service to the tourist industry, he was honored with numerous awards to include the Order of Distinction from the Government of Jamaica in 2006.

In offering his condolences, Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Dr. Wykeham McNeill said, "on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, I wish to express my profound regret at the passing of our friend and colleague Clive Taffe, and offer my sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.  His 50 years of outstanding service to the Jamaica Tourist Board has contributed significantly to the development of Jamaica’s vibrant tourism sector.  Mr. Taffe was an exceptionally committed and faithful worker, who brought vision and drive to the various portfolios he held throughout his tenure. He was truly a shining example as a public servant. His memory will live on and he will be greatly missed.”

Here is an excerpt from Travel Agent's special issue on Jamaica's 50th year of independence that I wrote with the assistance of Taffe.

Clive Taffe, a longtime consultant for the Jamaica Tourist Board, was eager to have me interview just about every Jamaican in the country in less than a week, rarely stopping for anything except a quick snack from Juici Patties every now and then. When I was out of gas by the sixth interview of the day, Taffe was already telling me about my next one or already giving me ideas for a new person to talk to.

Now, he wasn't taking pleasure in working a young New York reporter to the bone, but rather it was his nature to keep moving, to keep working, to keep forging ahead. And after visiting the country more than 20 times during my (eight years) at Travel Agent magazine, I learned that this attitude is infectious throughout the destination.

Visit www.visitjamaica.com