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Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett has underscored the pivotal role played by stakeholders at the country’s two international airports in enhancing the island’s tourism product.
Both facilities, the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA), and the Sangster International Airport, are situated in Kingston and Montego Bay, respectively.
Speaking at an appreciation function for staff and officials at the NMIA on December 13, Mr. Bartlett said the airports served not only as Jamaica’s entry points, but are the first points of contact, representing the “moment of truth,” when visitors to the island “meet the destination for the first time,” on landing.
The Minister cited the airlines, ramp handlers, Immigration and Customs Officers, and the porters (Red Caps) as “vital and critical” in ensuring that the anxiety experienced by persons visiting Jamaica for the first time are “alleviated and dissipated.”
“You do such a good job at it, because it’s not just that you relieve them of the physical strain and weight of their luggage, but it is that you give them a sense of ease and you make them feel welcome, and you make them feel comfortable, and that experience lingers with them,” Mr. Bartlett said.
Also of importance, the Minister noted, is the role played by the network of ground transportation stakeholders at the airports. He described them as a “most important link” in the chain, based on the whole experience visitors get get while being chauffeured to their hotel or other destinations.
“It is what you transmit to them, at that moment of interaction, that lingers and makes them feel even more at ease and satisfied that they have made the right decision to visit Jamaica. The friendliness you show, the honesty and integrity that characterise your involvement with them, stays with them, and helps to determine that Jamaica is the best destination to visit,” the Minister argued.
“The tourist brings the wealth and we give them happiness, that’s really what it’s all about. That wealth enables us to improve our well-being,” Mr. Bartlett added.
Citing the key role which tourism interests must play in ensuring the sector’s growth and success, Mr. Bartlett thanked the airport stakeholders for their continued input in this regard.
“We value your contribution. We value what you do; and it’s not just that you are earning from it, you are giving to is as well. So, I want to encourage you to continue to give. In our business of service, the more you give is the more you get. So let us give, this winter, the best, quality, high-touch service,” the Minister urged.
Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) Chairman and Tourism Director, John Lynch, who also spoke at the function, described the recently expanded NMIA, as a “first world” facility.
“It is ready for tourism. It’s ready for the business traffic that comes to Jamaica, and we should really look more actively at promoting this airport in Europe and Canada and the United States,” he contended.
The Tourism Director was also optimistic of the 2010/11 winter season being a good one for Jamaica.
“The winter season will be successful, no ifs, buts or maybes. If the weather co-operates, as it has been doing, in North America, we will have a very good winter season for both Kingston and Montego Bay,” Mr. Lynch said.
The appreciation function formed part of activities marking Tourism Awareness Week, being observed between December 12 and 18, under the theme: ‘Tourism is our mainstay; Everyone has a role to play’.
Prior to the function, Minister Bartlett toured sections of the airport, during which he met and greeted employees.