Hospitality workers are key to industry's success

Saturday, March 17, 2018

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ST JAMES, Jamaica (JIS) — Players in the tourism industry are being urged to show appreciation to their workers, who have been, and continue to be critical to the success of the sector.

The Ministry of Tourism is taking a lead role in this regard by identifying and rewarding first-class service through its annual Tourism Service Excellence Awards (TSEA).

Portfolio Minister, Edmund Bartlett, said the commitment to service excellence has contributed significantly to Jamaica's appeal as a premier tourist destination.

He noted that Jamaica's impressive 42 per cent repeat-visitor rate is a testament to “the yeoman service” being provided by hotel workers and which should “never be taken for granted”.

“The service is what keeps visitors coming back again and again. Whether an individual is travelling for business or pleasure, the level of customer service that visitors receive on their trip will help determine whether they come back for another visit or warn friends to stay away based on bad experience,” he pointed out.

“I am proud to say that it is the top-quality service that keeps bringing visitors back to the destination and distinguishes Jamaica from the rest of the competition,” he added.

Bartlett said it is very important for everyone in tourism, from the most senior person to those who work at the most junior level, to understand that doing a great job adds value to the product that visitors pay to enjoy.

He noted for example, the members of the Red Cap Porters Association, who he says, have for decades been the bedrock of the industry's success. The porters assist people arriving and departing from the airport.

“Now, these are the people who are among the first point of contact for a guest visiting Jamaica. That first point of contact is very important as, usually, that is where that first impression is formed. That, right there, can be critical as it relates to the overall experience of that guest while in Jamaica,” the minister noted.

He commended those entities that take the time to recognise and encourage their team members.

“I am a strong proponent of programmes that reward excellence. They help to raise the bar in service as well as drive a sense of ownership and pride throughout the sector. In doing so, they also foster national development,” he said.

Bartlett said that at this year's TSEA, “we will roll out the red carpet for those outstanding individuals and organisations that have made an exemplary contribution to the sector”.

“The TSEA are an integral part of my ministry's efforts to raise our tourism sector's competitiveness by motivating stakeholders to create compelling experiences and adopt best practices,” he noted, adding that it is a great way to show appreciation for those who make visitors “keep wanting to come back to Jamaica”.

A total of 21 people and entities will vie for honours at the TSEA slated for today at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.

They were selected from 126 nominees and cover the regions of Ocho Rios, Negril, Kingston, the south coast and Montego Bay.

The semi-finalists, who represent various categories within the industry, including accommodation, ground transportation, attractions and the craft industry, were chosen by a panel of judges based on their performance during 2017, following a series of evaluations and interviews.

Executive Director of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDC), Andrew Spencer, said development of human capital is the surest way for tourism to maximise its full potential.

“People represent the strongest link in this tourism chain. We want to continue to lift the standard of our already creative people; therefore, we often create programmes that place emphasis on our people,” he noted.

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