Prepare for change, Bartlett tells craft vendors
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says his ministry remains committed to building the capacity of local service providers in the tourism industry, through the provision of training and certification opportunities, which he hopes will encourage upward mobility.
Bartlett made the announcement during recent meetings with members of the craft and ground transportation subsectors at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
He told representatives of both groups that the tourism sector is rapidly changing worldwide and they would need to be aware of the changes, and equip themselves with the tools needed to adapt in a successful way.
"I can assure you that my ministry will provide assistance needed to be competitive in the increasing globalised world. We have provided a loan facility through the EXIM Bank at competitive rates which you have access to as business owners, and we will also be assisting you directly to market your products and services," said Bartlett.
He promised that marketing assistance would also be given through the soon-to-be-launched, fully integrated Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) website, which will showcase small and medium tourism enterprises across the island.
The site will be powered by Google and have a data-rich social media-integrated digital platform. It will also revolve on a single axis that provides real-time access and content to tour operators and travel agents, globally.
"It is important for local suppliers to the tourism industry to be equipped to compete as the industry is transforming rapidly in this new digital age. We cannot fear the changes already taking place all over the world. We must be responsive and adaptive in order to maintain a competitive edge and have a lucrative business. We will provide as much guidance as we can and create the opportunities," said Bartlett.
He said the artisan villages being developed, will provide much-needed support to Jamaica's craft and artisan industry.
According to Bartlett, the villages will be marketed directly to the cruise ships, and visitors will have the option to visit and purchase authentic craft items. He said this move should serve to reduce the volume of imported craft items that are being sold in the industry.
The creation of artisan villages is an initiative being driven by the Tourism Product Development Company. The first village will be located at the Hampden Wharf in Falmouth and will accommodate 18 shops along 540 square metres. Bartlett also committed to touring craft markets across the island in July and to have subsequent meetings with members of the ground transportation groups in the near future.
The meetings form part of a wider sensitisation programme by the Ministry of Tourism and its agencies to connect with all groups which directly impact the tourism industry locally.
During these meetings, Bartlett and a senior team from the Ministry of Tourism will attempt to encourage members of the sector to develop strategies that will entail policy and innovative business models.