Jamaica Tourists Safer Thanks to Tourism Enhancement Fund

The Executive Director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), Dr Carey Wallace (left), presents a certificate to Jay Haughton, who is a part of the first cohort of graduates certified in the TEF-sponsored Lifeguards and Standard First Aid and CPR Providers at Rhodes Hall High School in Hanover on Thursday, May 9, 2024. The new lifeguards are all senior students at the school. – image courtesy of TEF
Written by Linda Hohnholz

The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has taken a significant stride towards ensuring safer shores for Jamaica’s visitors and locals alike.

In a pioneering effort, TEF has joined forces with multiple public and private sector entities to execute a groundbreaking pilot project through its Jamaica Centre for Tourism Innovation division. The project focused on the rigorous training and certification of two cohorts of lifeguards, marking a pivotal moment in bolstering safety measures across Jamaica’s coastal regions.

Executive Director of TEF, Dr Carey Wallace, says the initiative “forms part of the tourism industry-led transformative and value-added process and is designed to enhance Jamaica’s competitiveness as an international destination while providing direct benefits to its people.”

Speaking at the graduation on Thursday (May 9, 2024), Dr Wallace underscored the potential of tourism to Jamaica’s economic independence and the prosperity of its people and said this was being achieved through the development of professional standards across all sectors of the value chain, in particular human development.

Among the 14 senior students at Rhodes Hall High School to graduate with Lifeguard and Royal Life Saving certificates after six months in training, nine completed all three aspects to qualify as lifeguards as well as standard first aid and CPR providers, while five qualified as standard first aid and CPR providers.

The lifeguard certification project was born out of concern expressed by the Negril Chapter of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and other tourism organizations regarding the availability of certified lifeguards in the resort town. In this vein, Rhodes Hall High School and the Negril WaveRunners Swim Club were approached to collaborate in increasing the number of lifeguards in the area.

The high school recruited senior students to participate, while JHTA members accommodated volunteers to learn to swim and train as lifeguards, instructed by the Negril WaveRunners Swim Club. Certification has come from the Royal Lifeguard Society, with the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) facilitating the licensing, which allows them to be employed. The Ministry of Education and Youth has also endorsed the project.

In addition to swimming training, the students also received training in water safety, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), first aid, rescue techniques, and ethics.

Dr. Wallace said that with the continuing growth in visitor arrivals and TEF continuing its initiative of developing public beaches island-wide, the lifeguard program will be expanded to St. James and St. Ann during the 2024/25 financial year, with the aim of including other parishes in the ensuing years.

Dr. Wallace told his audience:

He added that Jamaica had the potential to become a developed nation with workers earning higher levels of income, underlining “the answer is upskilling and international certification so that they are in demand from everywhere.”

Meanwhile, speaking for the JHTA, Negril Chapter Chairman Karen Lanigan said they were very proud of the project, “as our industry has been plagued by chronic shortages of lifeguards for some time, and the initiative is a bold step to addressing the situation.”

Annecia Smith, who conceptualized the project for Rhodes Hall High School, with the support of the TEF, has been swimming since she was five years old. She stated that she thought this would be a good way of meeting the need for more trained lifeguards.

The chairman of the school board, Lionel Myrie, expressed pleasure that it had been chosen for the pilot project and looked forward to participating in the next stage.


About the author

Linda Hohnholz

Editor in chief for eTurboNews based in the eTN HQ.

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