Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, officially opened the Old Fort Craft Market, located on Fort Street, Montego Bay, on Wednesday (December 9).
The market was extensively refurbished by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) to the tune of approximately $12 million.
This formed part of the drive by the Ministry of Tourism to improve craft markets across the resort areas of Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios and Port Antonio, for which some $87 million have so far being allocated.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (second right) posing with craft vendors as he toured the Old Fort Craft Market in Montego Bay on Wednesday (December 9). The Minister earlier opened the market which was refurbished at a cost of $12 million.
Addressing workers, vendors and stakeholders in the tourism industry at the ceremony, Mr. Bartlett observed that craft markets were now centres for tourist purchasing activities, and a medium for craft people to display the Jamaican culture and heritage.
“This craft market, and all others in the tourism resort areas, are important to the economy of the country because they make significant social contribution, as the stores are easily accessible to individuals at all levels and potential sources of livelihood in poor communities where unemployment levels are high,” Mr. Bartlett said.
He noted, however, that Jamaicans have not been as innovative in designing and marketing as they should be, in light of the competition which the sector faces.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (centre) with visitors at the Harbour Street Craft Market in Montego Bay during a tour on Wednesday (December 9).
He said that in light of the “sameness” of items observed across the industry, craft vendors and manufacturers must step up to the plate and produce items that could make the industry more competitive.
“I call on all in the industry to let us see more originality, more things that come from the bowels of our people, the creative minds of our people. So that when the visitors come, he will have no difficulty paying the price for items which appear special and original,” he said.
Mr. Bartlett also suggested that product lines should be improved and diversified, to retain a larger share of the tourist expenditure within the country.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (left) and Executive Director of the Tourism Product Development Company Limited (TPDCo), Earl Jarrett, (right) examine craft items in a shop at the Harbour Street Craft Market in Montego Bay on Wednesday (December 9) during a tour of the facility.
“Our ultimate goal is to provide all customers of our craft markets with an exposure to Jamaican heritage, while offering an exciting shopping experience and providing a safe and hassle-free environment for our visitors,” he asserted.
He also expressed the hope that by 2012, Jamaica’s craft industry will rank in the top two among regional destinations.
“We intend to achieve this by engaging a full spectrum force of high quality individuals and entrepreneurs working with all stakeholders to deliver superior, innovative craft items,” the Tourism Minister said.