JIS News

This morning we are here to celebrate the power of people and the incredible value we can create, especially when we work as a team towards a shared vision.
It is often forgotten, and therefore bears repeating that the ultimate determinant of value is the human resource. In service industries such as tourism, it is even more critical, since it all boils down to those ‘moments of truth’ in the supply chain. Each human link hinges on the other, with the potential to make or break that relationship that connects supplier with customer.
The most important advantage that Jamaican tourism has is its people; and since it is effective training that unlocks the human potential, I am sure we are at one in the conviction that our tourism product development cannot be sustained without it.
Now more than ever, the spotlight is on tourism as a key driver in our thrust for economic growth and development. Given our geographic, historical and cultural competitive advantage, coupled with the increased global focus on trade in services, we are definitely now in growth mode.
When we look at our recent performance in arrivals it is very informative.
We recovered from a dip in arrivals in mid-2005 to record the best-ever year last year, with nearly 1.48 million stopover visitors. This was a 4.5% increase over the previous year and in line the 4.6% increase in arrivals recorded for the region as a whole for 2005.
However, as important as this traffic is, we always have to consider the bottom line in assessing the health of any industry.
Here again, we were blessed with gross visitor expenditures of US$1.53 billion, a 6.9% increase over 2004. The parallel increases year over year for 2003 and 2004 were 11.7% and 6.3%, demonstrating once again that we are on a steady growth path with greater increase in expenditure relative to arrival figures.
We should also acknowledge the best-ever figures achieved in respect of cruise passenger arrivals last year, advancing to 1.136 million, an increase of 3.3%.
I am pleased to report that this year we have been able to maintain the momentum, and even increase on it for the first quarter of the calendar year 2006. Our stopover arrivals increased by 11.9% in January alone. Compared to January 2004, this is a 19.5% increase.
Preliminary figures for February this year show a 13.9% increase in stopover arrivals, 18% over 2004.
We are still compiling the March figures, as you would imagine, but so far they are trending towards a 16.2% increase over 2005. If this trend holds, it would represent a 17.7% increase over 2004, and a 29.3% over 2003. Looking ahead, the signs are all there for a continued upswing.
We continue to attract significant foreign direct investment to the sector, yielding an anticipated growth in our room stock of 5,119 by the end of 2007, with an additional 7,368 rooms by 2010.
It does not take any special skills of perception to see the job opportunities and with it the potential for social economic growth. However, when you also consider that most of the rooms will be added to upscale properties with premium service delivery, the prospects are even more promising.
Why do I say this? Well, the current industry best practice of a 1to 1.5 guest-to-staff ratio at such properties, means that there will be more jobs available as a result of these developments than might first meet the eye.
Now here is the challenge – the demand for high quality training is going to grow exponentially if we are to sustain this growth. Of course, this is where the TPDCo-led Team Jamaica programme comes in with its attitude enhancing, multi-level approach. Since its inception in 1997, Team Jamaica has been a great success – training more than 12,600 persons, it is now on a steady cycle of 3,200 per year in partnership with HEART, and another 1,600 per year, delivered directly to the trade. [By schedule and on demand.
If we are to operate on the basis of the feedback obtained from our partners in the industry, from the hoteliers, managers of attractions, restaurants etc , then Team Jamaica has become the industry standard it was intended to be.
Yet, with some 70-thousand persons employed directly in tourism.you can do the Math – there is still a shortfall in terms of reasonable access. We have to address this shortfall without diluting the quality of the programme.
Hence the reason for today’s celebration – the launch of an interactive CD-ROM containing the material for level one of the Team Jamaica training. This will create another entire stream of trainees, as it facilitates self-directed learning – one of the current realities of our fast paced and increasingly complex world.
The CD-ROM lends itself to use in various modalities, helping to fill some significant gaps and move the Team Jamaica training to a faster track. Apart from facilitating persons who find it difficult to attend formal sessions, it also enhances the technical resource base in a number of ways:
It can be incorporated into regular training session as audio visual support material, providing the necessary reinforcement to enrich the learning experience.
It is can be utilized as a training capsule which can be used to train the trainers across the industry, leading to a geometric progression in access to the material.
It can be used as a quick reference point, especially for non-Jamaican workers in the local trade who have to be immersed in the material in order to be recommended for work permits.
The CD-ROM approach will also facilitate the need for increased training of volunteers and industry workers to the requisite standards in customer care, particularly in anticipation of windfalls in arrivals such as we expect for Cricket World Cup 2007. In fact, the ‘Team Jamaica’ brand will be extended in its concept for that period, as we work towards total quality assurance as Jamaica will be showcased before the whole cricketing world.
From immigration, through customs.on to the red caps, the drivers, attendants at hotel check-in, guest services, waiters, waitresses and social directors/playmakers.each individual in the tourism chain is required to be a well-trained ambassador for our product. This is the aim of the high quality training provided by Team Jamaica through the strategic alliances between TPDCo and the HEART Trust-NTA.
This symbiotic relationship itself exemplifies the spirit of Team Jamaica – Together Each Achieves More.
This of course flows as a natural consequence of the modern approach to governance, with the government as facilitator and not parent or big brother. As a government, we remain committed to spearheading initiatives such as this, with sufficient lead time to allow our people to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible.
This facilitatory role also requires dynamism, so I am pleased to advise that this first CD-ROM is just the beginning. We intend, through the TPDCo – HEART synergy to develop more cutting edge training opportunities in keeping with changes in our dynamic industry.
With this CD-ROM, we expect that access to the foundation training will increase in the order of 20-30%, and that it will be ‘a quiet but powerful training revolution’. For the tourist industry.
For the ‘techno-phobes’ among us – have no fear. This CD-ROM is not intended to replace the human touch, because this is something we cannot do without. It is simply meant to multiply the points of contact, giving more persons easy access to the valuable information. The trainers will continue to make themselves available as needed, providing greater flexibility for learners to utilize this resource at their convenience.
I have also insisted that TPDCo and HEART must ensure that they maintain the highest standards and the good reputation already established for the Team Jamaica Programme.
In the spirit of Team Jamaica, I congratulate every single team member who contributed to this valuable training tool.
I commend its active use to every member of Team Jamaica – which in a real sense includes every single man, woman and child born here, or spiritually reborn here and now call it home.
It is said that a rising tide lifts all boats, so with the current sustained surge in this vital industry, I entreat you all to get on board, as there has never been a better time than the present to become an active member of Team Jamaica.
One Love.