Sun | May 19, 2019

Bartlett calls on UTech to develop technology-focused tourism curriculum

Published:Saturday | April 20, 2019 | 12:12 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett congratulates graduates at the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival Volunteer Programme during the awards ceremony at the University of Technology, Jamaica, on Tuesday.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett congratulates graduates at the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival Volunteer Programme during the awards ceremony at the University of Technology, Jamaica, on Tuesday.

Given emerging trends in other parts of the world, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett is calling on the University of Technology (UTech), Jamaica, to lead the charge in integrating technology into the local tourism sector.

“So I want you to make that reference here at UTech because I’ve seen the partnership with UTech in a different way than the partnership with other universities. And I want to bring this discourse to a point where we can develop a curriculum around the whole business of tourism and technology,” Bartlett said, making reference to an experience he had in Japan.

“Internet of things is redefining everything in tourism. I went to a seminar in a place called Nara in Japan … and it amazed me that there is a hotel that is fully driven by automation and robotics. From you leave the airport, you are driven by the Internet of things. You get to the hotel, and it is a robot named ‘Alexis’, or something like that, who welcomes you, ‘Hello,’”Bartlett said.

The minister made these comments on Tuesday while speaking at the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival Volunteer Programme awards ceremony at the university’s main campus in Papine, St Andrew, where 28 tertiary students were recognised.

Bartlett said that more intimate relationships with tertiary institutions are necessary in keeping Jamaica’s tourism sector lucrative.

FORGING CLOSER RELATIONSHIPS

“One of the things that we want to do is to work closer with our universities. We want to work closer with our formal education institutions and to infuse in them the sense that training and development in capacity for human interaction is central to tourism because that’s what we are about.

“We are about human interaction. We are about bringing value to the experience of meeting people, of understanding people, of learning about people and cultures, to understand differences and diversity, and to celebrate diversity, and importantly, gain an economic advantage,” Bartlett said.

The Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival Volunteer Programme was done in partnership with Tourism Product Development Company to provide participants with Team Jamaica certification through an eight-day training programme.

Of the group of volunteers, 25 were from the UTech and three from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

Last year, Jamaica welcomed a record 4.32 million visitors, earning US$3.3 billion.

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com