JIS News

Story Highlights

  • TPDCo has embarked on a Language Skills Training Programme, aimed at training some 300 persons in the tourism industry, in conversational Russian and Spanish.
  • This move complements the Ministry’s efforts to secure increased airlifts to Jamaica from several non-traditional tourist destinations.
  • Classes for the programme will be held in the resort areas of Negril, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.

The Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, through the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), has embarked on a Language Skills Training Programme, aimed at training some 300 persons in the tourism industry, in conversational Russian and Spanish.

This move complements the Ministry’s efforts to secure increased airlifts to Jamaica from several non-traditional tourist destinations, including Russia, Latin America and Europe.

Addressing a ceremony to mark the official launch of the programme, held at the Swept Away Resort, in Negril, on November 21, Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, described the initiative as a groundbreaking one, which is both timely and strategic, given the Ministry’s ongoing drive to expand its reach into new and existing markets, “in order to diversify its markets and boost tourist arrivals.”

He said the initiative will add to the recent successes in making it easier for persons from those markets to enter Jamaica, by its relaxation of visa restrictions for a number of Latin American and Eastern European countries.

“This programme targets frontline tourism workers and seeks to equip them with basic language skills to enable them to effectively engage visitors in brief conversation at points of entry to the island and other customer contact areas,” the Minister explained.

“It will entail cultural sensitivity sessions in order to expose workers to the way of life of visitors from non-English speaking countries, primarily Russia, Spain and South American countries, thereby enabling them to better cater to the needs of the target markets,” he added.

The Minister pointed out that classes for the programme will be held in the resort areas of Negril, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, with tourism sector workers, such as Immigration and Customs Officers, Red Cap Porters, Taxi Operators, Craft Vendors, and workers in the Hotels and Attractions as well as other frontline staff throughout the industry being targeted.

Dr.  McNeill informed that the programme is being financed by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) at a cost of approximately $3 million.

With the programme being fully endorsed by the Ministry of Education, Language Specialist, Martha Corbett Baugh, who will be co-ordinating the programme on behalf of TPDCo, said that the main aim of the programmme is to prepare the participants to develop the skills to communicate in other languages which will improve their product offerings.

She pointed out that the programme will run over a twelve-week period, with participants receiving two classes of two hours per week. Classes will begin at a Negril location on Thursday, November 28, and in Montego Bay on Wednesday, December 4.

“November and December will be Russian and very soon we are also continuing with Spanish.  At the end we will be able to test and see that the persons who participated in the course will be able to enhance their offer, work better, serve Jamaica better, guaranteed a decent income, and by all means become better service providers in the market,” she emphasized.