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    Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has urged all Jamaicans to come together in a concerted effort, to preserve and protect the tourism industry, the largest contributor of foreign exchange, employing more than 80,000 persons, directly.
    Giving the main address at the inaugural Tourism Service Excellence Awards function, held at the Ritz Carlton Rose Hall Resort and Spa, in Montego Bay, St. James, on April 25, the Minister said the recent aborted hostage incident at the Sangster International Airport could affect the industry.

    Members of the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble entertain participants in the Inaugural Tourism Service Excellence Awards ceremony at the Ritz Carlton Rose Hall Resort and Spa yesterday (April 24).
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    “The unfortunate incident has created a pall of doom and gloom across the landscape of this tourist destination. It is a fact that Jamaica and the wider Caribbean is the most tourist dependent region and so we must all protect the industry and see to its preservation and avoid such incidents. This is now going to cost the country additional advertising and promotion dollars, and we are going to have to be on the streets over the next four to six weeks, like we never did before, in a destination that we have been seeing record growth in the last two years,” Mr. Bartlett told the gathering.
    He pointed out that the Ministry and the reliable and hardworking team were not deterred by the hostage hiccup, but rather were inspired by the fact that Jamaica remains a strong and powerful destination, having beautiful and wonderful people.

    Members of the Palladium Fiesta Ballet Troupe entertain participants in the Inaugural Tourism Service Excellence Awards ceremony at the Ritz Carlton Rose Hall Resort and Spa yesterday (April 24)

    “Tourism is everybody’s business and the same should be of service excellence. But excellence is not always automatic, nor is it always achieved. However, all the nominees and our 22 finalists have demonstrated what can be achieved as a result of a commitment to providing quality service,” the Minister said.
    In the awards section, 13 individuals and nine organisations that had demonstrated excellence in service, vied for the coveted national championship trophies.
    The top individual who was crowned National Champion, winning the island’s highest accolade for service excellence, was Room Attendant at the Beaches Boscobel Resort and Golf Club, in St. Mary, Fiona Hartley.
    The top organisation award was won by Island Car Rentals.

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