Members of the local craft sector are anxiously anticipating the implementation of a Craft Authority, which will manage, maintain and market the sector in Jamaica.
Plans for the Craft Authority were announced by State Minister in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Damion Crawford, during his Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on July 2.
“The decision has been welcomed. It is something that we have been yearning for over many years. I think the intervention of the State Minister and the Minister of Tourism to set up a Craft Authority will curtail problems that we are faced with on a daily basis, including lack of recognition,” says Vice President of the Craft Vendors Association, Devon Mitchell.
“What they are putting in place will help to reduce [unfair] competition in the craft industry. It will impact us in a positive way. The management system will benefit small craft traders, craft producers and increase revenue,” he tells JIS News.
Meanwhile, Project Co-ordinator of Jamaica Creative Co-operative, Maxine Donovan, says craft vendors often encounter challenges with marketing their authentic Jamaican products, because the market is saturated with craft items made of inferior material from foreign countries.
“As a result, visitors are unable to distinguish between real Jamaican craft and items made in other countries. This initiative by the Ministry will improve employment, prevent real craftsmanship skills from dying and circulate revenue within the country,” Mrs. Donovan says.
Additionally, craft vendors believe that the implementation of the Craft Authority will assist them with their marketing efforts through streamlined advertising, as well as give marketers greater opportunities to educate visitors about Jamaican craft.
“The implementation of the Craft Authority will increase revenue. Additionally, it will boost us in terms of advertising and visitors will be more knowledgeable about us in the business,” Vice President of Craft Traders Association at Dunn’s River, Linford Sterling, tells JIS News.
The Ministry of Tourism also plans to give the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), a greater role in enhancing the craft sector.
The company will share market trends, gather market intelligence data and assist tourists and other craft collectors to distinguish between authentic Jamaican craft and those produced in other countries.
“Full attention will be given to the utilization of new raw materials, designs, heritage and traditions that will speak to Jamaicans,” Craft Specialist at TPDCo, Violet Crutchley tells JIS News.