With the tourist industry on a growth path, Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, says the Ministry is now working on strategies to maximise the opportunities within the sector, for all Jamaicans to benefit.
He argued that the industry has the potential to provide many opportunities for upward social mobility, pointing out that there is now an estimated 250,000 persons benefiting both directly and indirectly from the sector.
The Minister was giving the keynote address at the Diageo Learning for Life graduation ceremony, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, on February 9, for participants from western Jamaica.
“What the team at the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment will be working on from here on, is to maximise the opportunities for all Jamaicans in the various ways going forward,” he said.
“One way is to entice the millions of visitors who are now coming to our shores to spend more money on activities and engage our Jamaican brothers and sisters as the key elements in the chain,” the Minister added.
He said that focus is also being placed on ways to increase the percentage of tourism dollar expenditure on goods and services that are produced locally.
“In that way, we can ensure that the impact of tourism is felt across a wider cross-section of the economy, improving the lives of young persons, such as yourselves and the ones behind,” he told the 150 graduates, who were trained in tourism related disciplines and entrepreneurship, under the programme.
Dr. McNeill praised the Diageo/Red Stripe Learning for Life programme, noting that it is very much in step with the Ministry the Government’s approach towards developing sustainable growth in the tourism industry. He said that the programme fully embraces ideals that are supported by the Ministry.
Meanwhile, Head of Corporate Communications at Red Stripe/Diageo, Marguerite Cremin, said that since the launch of the Learning for Life programme, the lives of over 2,500 trainees have been impacted. She pointed out that participants are trained in tourism related areas, such as Customer Service, Food and Beverage, Administration, Supervisory Management, and Entrepreneurship.
Also in attendance were Minister of State for Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Damion Crawford and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Jenifer Griffiths.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter