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Vision 2030 set big plans for craft industry improvement

Published:Saturday | March 21, 2015 | 3:00 AM

WESTERN BUREAU:

Vision 2030, Jamaica's national development plan, notes that, among the "priority sector strategies" for the development of an internationally competitive tourism industry is the transformation of the "concept, physical ambiance and shopping experience of the craft industry."

This goal is to be accomplished through the achievement of three major objectives: the upgrading of craft markets, the development of artisan villages, and the establishment of a craft institute to provide craft skills training and product quality certification. The responsible agencies, the document states are: the Tourism Enhancement Fund, Tourism Product Development Company, Jamaica Business Development Corporation, Urban Development Corporation and the HEART Trust/NTA.

In light of the objectives of the development plan, in March 2014, the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment issued a Request for Proposals for a National Craft Policy and Strategy for Jamaica aimed at, among other things, creating a strengthened and competitive craft sector, the promotion of genuine Jamaican craft, and the establishment of supporting infrastructure to build capacity of craft production personnel to ensure sophistication of the products,

services and increased productivity.

The ministry noted in its Terms of Reference for the proposed policy that handicraft is one of the fastest-growing tourism-related activities and is an integral part of the tourism experience for international tourists.

"A good quality handicraft taken home from an enjoyable holiday has continuing power to evoke wonderful memories and, indeed, to arouse the interest of others who see it, and to encourage them to visit the destination," the tourism ministry noted in the document.

"The production and sale of handicraft can foster the continuity of local traditions and contribute significantly to poverty alleviation through its ability to create jobs, socio-economic opportunities and an enhanced quality of life in local communities. Managed well, the handicraft industry has the capacity to create high added value, and the money spent on craft spread instantly and undiluted into the local community," the document further stated.

The ministry also said the policy is aimed at streamlining the craft sector by facilitating incremental improvements in quality, variety, value, marketing, sales, customer satisfaction and profits.

local identity

"To this end, the policy aims to promote greater local identity of finished craft and souvenirs, innovation, better packaging, regulation, production and distribution facilities similar to the Bahamian Straw Market Authority's model. The establishment of a Craft Council as Phase I and a Craft Authority as Phase II has been proposed as key strategies in a policy on craft," the Terms of Reference noted.

"The policy will address factors which are critical to the sustainability and growth of the craft industry in Jamaica and which enable successful enterprise It will also elaborate on strategic objectives, from the sourcing of raw materials to the packaging and branding of an authentic Jamaica brand, which will ensure that local craft producers and traditional artisans benefit from the marketing and commercial opportunities provided by the tourism industry," the document also stated.