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A total of 12 individuals and 13 organisations were announced as finalists in the 2011 Tourism Service Excellence Programme (TSEP) awards during a ceremony on November 20 at the Wyndham Kingston hotel.

The list included two individuals and three businesses from Kingston; three individuals and one business from Ocho Rios; three individuals and three businesses from Negril; three individuals and three businesses from Montego Bay; one individual and two businesses from the South Coast; and one business from Portland.

The finalists were selected by a panel of independent judges, from nominations received from all the resort areas and covered all aspects of the industry. They will vie for the top prize at a grand presentation ceremony to be held on December 8 at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Montego Bay.

State Minister for Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Damion Crawford, who brought greetings during the function, congratulated the finalists on a job well done.

He noted that the aim of the TSEP awards is to recognise those persons and organisations that provide outstanding service in the tourism sector and to motivate them to continue in their efforts.

Meanwhile, Chairman, Kingston Metropolitan Resort Board, James Samuels, who brought remarks on behalf of Chairman, Tourism Product Development Company Ltd, Maxine Henry-Wilson, pointed out that the tourism sector thrives on good service.

He remarked that service was the critical input, which determines the difference between a mediocre and an extraordinary operation.

Mr. Samuels stated that the selection process for this year’s finalists was a difficult one, as the standards across the sector continue to be at a high level.

“Today’s typical tourism service provider is highly motivated and highly skilled in his/her area of expertise. Efficiency and competence are their hallmark and they take pride in the delivery of a job well done, with the greatest level of pride coming from the praises of satisfied customers – mainly the visitors to our island,” he stated.

The finalists were selected based on a special set of criteria, which included: exceptional initiative; compliance with all relevant tourism and other industry standards; continuous improvement in service delivery, and attention to customer satisfaction; and proven contribution to the enhancement of Jamaica’s tourism by creating innovative or unique products and services.

 The TSEP award, which is in its 4th year, is considered the country’s highest accolade to be given to persons and organisations in the tourism sector for service excellence.