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Deputy Director of Tourism, Zachary Harding, has stressed the importance of service excellence in enhancing and improving the tourism product.
Speaking at the 14th anniversary celebration of the Kiwanis Club of Eastern St. Andrew recently, at the Altamont Court Hotel in Kingston, Mr. Harding pointed out that service is crucial to the success of tourism, as it drives the sector, and motivates visitors to return to the island.
“Studies have shown that one of the most important factors of the visitor experience is the quality of the interface between the visitor and the tourism worker in a destination. It is the customer service person, the bell man, the security guard at the gate.these are the people that they first interact with, these people are critical when we talk about service in tourism,” Mr. Harding pointed out.
Tourism service excellence, he outlined “speaks to the satisfaction of the customer, the enhancement of the visitor experience, creativity and innovation, the attainment and maintenance of standards, accreditation by workers and entities and the extent to which one goes beyond the call of duty in exceeding guest expectations and demonstrating professionalism on the job.”
He noted that the Tourism Service Excellence Programme (TSEP), which was launched in July, will help to promote excellence within the sector, in order to improve the competitiveness of the local tourism product in the global marketplace.
“The programme is designed to simultaneously have a motivating effect on both industry workers and guests, as guests are motivated to become repeat visitors when they receive excellent service, while providers of the excellent service are rewarded for going beyond the call of duty,” Mr. Harding explained.
The TSEP will facilitate on-the-job training of ground transportation crew, front desk personnel, and all other service providers within the industry. It will also promote, highlight, and identify high quality service, and celebrate and reward persons and entities providing those services. It was designed as part of the Ministry’s multi-pronged approach to increase arrivals and revenues of Jamaica’s tourism industry.
Mr. Harding said the hope is that TSEP will create a highly competitive Jamaican tourism industry, where every employee is accountable for managing the guest experience and for being in touch with the ever-changing moods, needs and expectations of the customer.
In recognition of excellence in service, Mr. Harding stated that the inaugural Tourism Service Awards, will be staged during the first quarter of 2009 and will feature the “best of the best from across the island, in the hospitality sector.”