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Executive Director of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), Earl Patrick, is underscoring the importance of training, in efforts to deliver high standards of service within the tourism industry, and the resulting benefits which can accrue to stakeholders, particularly employees. Speaking at a recent tourism productivity practitioners seminar at the Breezes Runaway Bay Resort and Golf Club in St. Ann, where he represented Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, Mr. Patrick noted that the training of workers in the tourism sector must be the catalyst underpinning the industry’s ability to effectively deliver to its clients.
“Training must be embodied in a cross section of the industry, ranging from workers in the hotels; transportation providers; attractions; airport workers, namely redcap porters and immigration officers; craft vendors; in-bond merchants; resort area courtesy cops; and, by extension, hospitality students,” Mr. Patrick said.
He pointed out that the Tourism Service Excellence Programme (TSEP) is one of the incentives available to stakeholders, who distinguish themselves by delivering high quality service. To this end, he is encouraging practitioners and their staff to participate in the programme, pointing out that this will redound to Jamaica’s benefit.
“The objective of the Tourism Service Excellence Programme is geared towards a transformation of individuals and organisations of the tourism sector, to become the norm and (to) perform with the consistency of high service levels set out with criteria standards, all year round,” Mr. Patrick explained.
He added that persons, deemed to have given distinguished service to the industry, will be duly recognised at an awards ceremony, scheduled for March 2009.
The TPDCo head noted that a number of initiatives have already been introduced to recognise stakeholders for their contributions to tourism. These, he outlined, include: a pension scheme, developed by the Ministry for persons directly employed in the tourism sector; the Redcap Porters Recognition Programme; Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association Incentive Programme for Best Industry Employee; and a Gratuity Incentive Scheme for hotel employees.
Regarding infrastructure, Mr. Patrick advised that the establishment of artisan villages in the resort areas of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Port Antonio, will be addressed soon, adding that the villages will be tailored to provide training for local craft persons, as well as serve as outlets for individuals to market their products.
“I should also mention that funds have been approved for the rehabilitation of the Ocho Rios Market in St. Ann, as well as the historic Musgrave Market in Port Antonio, which had been allowed to fall into a sad state of disrepair over the years,” the TPDCo head informed.
Additionally, he underscored the need for existing attractions to be upgraded, and new ones developed, “if we are to attract and retain visitors to our island.”
“There is little doubt, that changes in the global tourism industry will require us to consider new strategies to meet the challenges that lie ahead. Our success will hinge largely on our ability to mobilise and reward our employees for their productivity in attaining these targets,” Mr. Patrick emphasized.
The seminar was staged with assistance of the Jamaica Productivity Centre; Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS), the Jamaica Employment Federation (JEF); and the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU).