KINGSTON, Jamaica — Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett says his ministry remains committed to building the capacity of local service providers in the tourism industry, through the provision of training and certification opportunities which he hopes will encourage upward mobility.
The minister made this announcement during recent meetings with members of the craft and ground transportation subsectors at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
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According to a release from his ministry, during the meetings, Bartlett advised both groups that the tourism sector is rapidly changing worldwide and they would need to be aware of the changes, and equip themselves with the tools needed to adapt in a successful way.
“I can assure you that my ministry will provide assistance needed to be competitive in the increasing globalised world. We have provided a loan facility through the EXIM bank at competitive rates which you have access to as business owners, and we will also be assisting you directly to market your products and services,” said the minister.
He noted that marketing assistance would also be given through the soon to be launched, fully-integrated Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) website, which will showcase Small and Medium Tourism Enterprises across the island.
The site will be powered by Google and have a data-rich social media-integrated digital platform. It will also revolve on a single axis that provides real-time access and content to tour operators and travel agents, globally.
“It is important for local suppliers to the tourism industry be equipped to compete as the industry is transforming rapidly in this new digital age. We cannot fear the changes already taking place all over the world. We must be responsive and adaptive in order to maintain a competitive edge and have a lucrative business. We will provide as much guidance as we can and create the opportunities,” said the minister.
He continued by stating that the artisan villages being developed, will provide much-needed support to Jamaica’s craft and artisan industry.
He explained that the villages will be marketed directly to the cruise-ships and visitors will have the option to visit and purchase authentic craft items.
The move also serves to reduce the volume of imported craft items that are being sold in the industry.
The ministry said the creation of artisan villages is an initiative being driven by the Tourism Product Development Company.
The first village will be located at the Hampden Wharf in Falmouth and will accommodate 18 shops along 540 square metres.
The minister also encouraged the members of the craft and ground transportation subsectors to take advantage of training opportunities available through the Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation (JCTI).
“We recently had over 150 hospitality workers, like yourself, graduate from our JCTI training programme. This is an avenue you can also pursue, or other members of your family, to receive international certification. We also have a number of other training programmes through the TPDCo to keep you innovative and help you improve your business models to earn more,” said the minister.
Bartlett also committed to touring craft markets across the island in July and to have subsequent meetings with members of the ground transportation groups in the near future.
The meetings are said to form part of a wider sensitisation programme by the Ministry of Tourism and its agencies to connect with all groups which directly impact the tourism industry locally.
During these meetings, Bartlett and a senior team from the ministry will continue to encourage members of the sector to develop strategies that will entail policy and innovative business models.