Tourism Minister Highlights Initiatives to Improve Sector


Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, has outlined initiatives geared at enhancing the country’s tourism product and improving service within the industry.
Speaking at a recent press briefing held at the Ministry on Dominica Drive in New Kingston, the Tourism Minister pointed out that the various initiatives, which include youth employment, community tourism, and small business development and entrepreneurship, are aimed at improving quality service within the sector, and allowing Jamaicans to benefit from the industry, and appreciate its offerings.
He noted that a major initiative would be the roll-out of a community programme, which would include the upgrading of communities in and around the resort areas.
“We are working with the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCO), to identify some of these critical areas, because we want the tourism dollar to be felt by the workers of the industry, as well as the communities around the resort areas,” said Minister Bartlett.
To further foster community development, he announced a $100 million credit programme to assist the small and medium sized enterprises within these communities. He noted that the credit arrangement is by way of a venture capital fund which would “allow young people in the resort areas who have ideas and who can convert those ideas into material value, to become young entrepreneurs and earners.”
“The proposal will be that we lend them a portion of what they need and then we would invest a certain portion in the project, and at a point in time, we would sell them back that portion that we invest so that the entire project become theirs,” the Tourism Minister explained.
Another programme highlighted by the Minister is the ‘Spruce Up Jamaica’ Youth Summer Programme, an initiative, which was launched in July, to enhance the overall visitor experience and provide employment for young persons.
The programme saw some 1,200 students from local high schools, colleges and universities employed in various tourism entities in the resort areas of Kingston, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Negril and the South Coast over a three-week period during the summer.
Minister Bartlett noted that the purpose of the programme was to begin the process of getting the youth “to appreciate tourism, not only as a source of income, but as a source of their personal development.”
He explained that the summer employment programme led to the creation of a work/study programme, which will see Grade 10 to 11 students in high schools in the resort areas receiving hands-on training and experience in the tourism sector.
“We will be providing employment opportunities for them for two or three hours a day, five days per week and provide them with a stipend, which will be an economic relief to their parents and will allow them to purchase textbooks and other necessities,” Minister Bartlett informed, adding, “we want in the process, to give them a feel of what the industry is about, and to help them chart a career path and to make choices in favour of tourism”.
He noted also, that the initiative is “a powerful way of building the future in terms of the cadre of employees, service managers and potential owners and entrepreneurs of the tourism industry.”
As it relates to improving service, the Minister made reference to the ‘Tourism Service Excellence’ programme, which was launched in July, to promote excellence within the sector in order to improve the competitiveness of the local tourism product in the global marketplace.
The programme 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.
In recognition of excellence in service, Minister Bartlett stated that the inaugural Tourism Service Awards, the ‘Oscars’ of Tourism, would be staged at the end of the year and will feature the “best of the best from across the island, in the hospitality sector.”

JIS Social