JIS News

The official inauguration ceremony for the members of the Tourism Courtesy Corps will be held this Friday (Jan. 23) at the Old Hospital Site on Gloucester Avenue in Montego Bay.
A total of 120 courtesy officers will be installed at the event, which will be hosted by the Ministry of Tourism, through its agencies, the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).
The programme is designed to enhance the safety, service and comfort of visitors by strategically deploying courtesy officers in the resort areas of Negril, Montego Bay, Runaway Bay, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio and Kingston.
“A critical part of the whole tourism development in this country is clearly to ensure that when visitors arrive here, they enjoy their stay in a very tranquil and peaceful environment,” said Executive Director of the TPDCo, Earl Patrick.
He told JIS News that “over the years, we have had this problem of visitor harassment to the point where some of our main providers, like the cruise lines, were complaining that if we do not do something about it, then they will have to rethink this strategy of coming into Jamaica.”
He said that the overall goal of the initiative is to alleviate this problem and “have officers trained to handle these harassers and give reassurance to the visitor that Jamaica cares.”
The 120 officers, who will be installed on Friday, have been trained and deployed in the resort areas since December. They were selected by Markman Limited, which won the contract to provide the service, while TPDCo undertook the training component. The training covered visitor relationship, the geography of Jamaica, people and anger management. They officers have the power of detention, but not arrest.
The TPDCo Executive Director informed that since the deployment of the officers, there has been a “remarkable reduction” in the number of complaints.
He appealed to Jamaicans to support the initiative as “tourism is our lifeblood. With remittance not happening the way we want it to, manufacturing not happening the way we want it to, tourism is really where the action is, and we therefore have to protect and nurture it,” he stressed.
The duties of the courtesy corps include:. The provision of patrol services in designated areas to assist in preventing the soliciting and harassment of visitors.. The provision of information and direction to visitors, as well as to local residents on various subjects including location of attractions, restaurants and places of interest.. Supervision of the orderly dispatch of visitor transportation from cruise ship piers and other locations, to selected venues.. Directing and guiding visitors away from areas likely to be unsafe.. Keeping a close watch on characters, who could be a source of problems to visitors and who are likely to create an undesirable image for Jamaica.. Advising visitors of the correct charges for transportation to and from any part of the island when required to do so.. Taking action to prevent visitors from using unlicensed vehicles or operators from points of dispatch.. Effecting detention where applicable, of persons breaching the Tourist Board Act within prescribed areas.