Jamaica Tourist Board Outlines Tourism Initiatives at Caribbean Tourism Conference In Puerto Rico

KINGSTON, Jamaica – At the 30th Annual Caribbean Tourism Conference & Trade Exhibition (CTC-30), held October 19 through 24 in San Juan, The Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism for Jamaica, led the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) team in presenting plans for growing the destination’s tourist industry. Among the key areas of focus were:

 Jamaica’s initiative to export the tourism product;

 new programs for recruiting and training talent;

 and staffing up to support growth over the coming decade.

Going Global

Minister Bartlett is leading a move towards expanding the export of Jamaica’s tourist industry, aligning it alongside manufacturing and agriculture. “With these three sectors, we have a natural cluster that forms the basis of Jamaica’s economy, and it’s important that tourism receive the same kind of benefits that accrue in manufacturing,” he said. With targeted marketing initiatives and enhanced distribution, the JTB plans a new focus on export as a significant area of growth.

Building the Future

Minister Bartlett has signaled his intention in addressing the increasing challenge of attracting, training and keeping new talent, which is universal throughout the hospitality industry.

Director of Tourism Basil Smith emphasized the importance of working with young people to ensure the future success of the tourism industry. “The JTB has sponsored two young Jamaicans to participate in the conference,” he commented. “I feel that the motivational presentations to hospitality students and youth organizations this year are especially important, creating an opportunity for Caribbean destinations to communicate with future travel leaders, whose efforts will be key to tourism growth for the entire region in the years ahead.”

New Hospitality School in Montego Bay

Current plans in Jamaica include the launch of a new hospitality training school in Montego Bay, scheduled to be operational by the end of 2009. The curriculum will include courses that illustrate the importance of tourism as a key driver of the national economy, and that fully communicate the concept of service.

Minister Bartlett noted: “The Ministry’s recruiting programs are designed to apprise students of the rewards of a career in tourism, with the potential for excellent remuneration and benefits, plus the unparalleled experience and education of global travel.”

Commenting on the all-important service factor, the Director added: “Our high service level in Jamaica is key to the success of our tourism product, and Jamaican hospitality workers are much sought after. After all, 40 percent of our repeat visitors indicate the Jamaican people as the reason they come back again and again.”

HR to Support Industry Growth

Minister Bartlett underscored the tourist industry’s leadership position as a source of employment throughout the island. Looking forward, he noted: “Over the next five to 10 years, Jamaica will build its work force with an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 new recruits in the hospitality sector.”

Recruitment at all levels will ensure quality staffing, keeping the service dynamic a high point in Jamaica’s marketability and supporting the industry’s long-term growth.

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