MONTEGO BAY, St James, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett has challenged the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) and leaders of key subsectors of the industry to raise standards and maintain integrity within the sector.
The Minister issued his charge recently as he embarked on a series of stakeholder meetings with subsector groups to outline the way forward, with the emphasis being on growth.
Following a meeting with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association in Kingston, on Thursday March 10, Minister Bartlett then met with members of staff of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and TPDCo at the regional office in Montego Bay on Friday, March 11. He then engaged in dialogue with stakeholders from the attractions, ground transportation, and the craft sub-sectors at the Montego Bay Convention Centre and heard their concerns.
To the TPDCo staff he said, “your job is to ensure the integrity of the product. Destination Jamaica has to be managed and in managing it we have to look at the critical touch points that have to be in pristine condition at all times because when the visitor comes he leaves whatever he has in his own country and he is at your mercy and your whim. He is here to enjoy the product in a safe environment so that he can move around seamlessly and freely and that there will not be any negative repercussions.”
With the country enjoying an enviable 42 percent rate of repeat business, Minister Bartlett argued that attracting the other 58 percent could not be as hard as it may seem. “I believe it has been made to look that hard because we have not done enough to market and satisfy the passions of the people,” he said.
Noting that price was hardly a concern for people who travel to fulfill their passions, Mr. Bartlett said “our job is to identify these passion points and then to build the product around them.” He stressed that standards must be at the highest level and charged TPDCo to be “the centre of the integrity of the product,” seeing to the management of quality assurance, which, he said, “was what makes a quality destination.”
Mr. Bartlett, who is doing a second tour of duty as Tourism Minister, underscored that the opportunities were enormous and “the truth is tourism is the only industry over which Jamaica has both competitive and good comparative advantage in the world market,” adding that, “we do things better in tourism than anywhere else” and the country’s most iconic attraction, our people, is the greatest pull.