JIS News

The Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) will be taking a more focused and strategic approach in an effort to drive the development of the tourism sector.
Michael Muirhead, who was appointed Executive Director of the agency in January 2004, said TPDCo would centre its activities around measures to facilitate greater investments in tourism that would result in the diversification of the tourism product, as well as efforts to improve the quality of Jamaica’s offerings and the level of professionalism in the industry.
In an interview with JIS News, Mr. Muirhead said that the agency was positioning itself to make a real impact on the development of tourism through the improvement of the existing product, and the expansion into new areas that would result in socio-economic benefits to more Jamaicans. He added that the agency would also embark on a drive to increase the level of voluntary compliance in all areas of the sector.
“TPDCo must prepare itself to play an effective role in the implementation of the Tourism Master Plan, particularly in the area of product improvement and diversification,” Mr. Muirhead pointed out.
In preparing itself to meet the challenges, the agency is now in the process of carrying out an organizational review and has drafted a new mission statement, which is guiding its way forward.
Mr. Muirhead expressed the view that the agency’s mandate would be enhanced by strengthening the legislative provisions which underpin TPDCo’s current functions. However, he said that also critical to the success of this thrust, was for the agency to be viewed as a facilitator rather than a policing agency. “We will actively engage in guiding the sector in a positive manner to ensure that we create a tourism product that meets the expectations of visitors,” he said.
Mr. Muirhead said the agency would be moving away from the direct management of attractions, and direct engagement in the cleaning and upgrading of resort towns, to working with the relevant agencies and private sector interests, to develop the industry. “For many years, TPDCo found itself directly engaged in the management of some attractions, and at times taking on the task of dealing with sanitation and other issues in the resort towns for which other agencies have responsibility. What we will be doing is working closely with those agencies to ensure we create resort towns that provide a positive vacation experience for visitors,” Mr. Muirhead said.
This approach also comes out of a recognition that it takes partnerships and a co-ordinated strategy to drive tourism. With respect to the management of attractions, Mr. Muirhead pointed out that private sector interests would have the capital to make the facilities become viable and add to the diversity and quality of Jamaica’s tourism industry. He identified attractions such as rafting on the Rio Grande for which TPDCo has responsibility as manager of the Rio Grande Tours Limited, as one of those attractions up for divestment.
“We feel that the direct role of managing and developing attractions rests with the private sector, and that TPDCo’s role is primarily that of monitoring and enabling the process,” Mr. Muirhead said.
The agency will be intensifying its effort to license entities operating in the sector through collaboration with agencies such as the Ministry of Health, the Fire Department, and the Jamaica Constabulary Force and other relevant agencies.
“In addition to facilitating the entrance of new players in the sector, TPDCo will also intensify its role in providing guidance in relation to improving standards in the accommodation and attractions sector, as well as areas such as craft and the transport sectors,” he explained.
Mr. Muirhead noted that the agency has been engaged in an effort to work with the traders to improve the quality of their products and to work with relevant agencies to facilitate the physical improvement of craft markets.
In terms of the craft sector, he said the agency was on a drive to have all the craft traders licensed.

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