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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica, Monday, July 17, 2017: The Ministry of Tourism, through its Linkages Network, is encouraging the tourism sector to make greater use of technology to enhance guest experience.
A ground-breaking move in that direction was made on Thursday (July 13) when the Knowledge Network of the Tourism Linkages Network partnered with Digicel Business to host “Smart Destination Jamaica: A Preview of the Latest Technology in Tourism,” a think tank and forum that discussed and demonstrated some of the latest technological trends globally being employed in the hospitality industry.
The four-hour event, which was held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, attracted nearly 350 participants from tourism and allied sectors. They were given a close insight into how managed technology can boost guest satisfaction and provide management with data-driven marketing tools by high-tech service providers HP Aruba, Avaya, Buddy and Digicel.
Delivering the keynote address, Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett underscored the importance of technology as a driving force in knowledge and innovation, which have been changing the way in which business models were being conducted and “changing the way in which we understand things.”
He said the event was intended “to look at how the technologies have been impacting tourism and what it is going to mean for the architecture that will emerge in the tourism space.” Minister Bartlett lauded the initiative as a bold step by the Knowledge Network to bring the players and purveyors together with stakeholders “who are deeply interested in uniting the new values that this technology will bring to make us fit for purpose and more so, remain fashionable and relevant.” The Knowledge Network is chaired by Digicel Jamaica Chief Executive Officer David Butler.
Minister Bartlett spoke to the need for Jamaica to enable the concept of “smart destination, innovation for tourism development and management” as a key area that would be redefining tourism in a profound way.
According to Minister Bartlett, “ICT has become an enabler for sustainable development globally and as the world’s natural resources become more and more finite, we can use ICT to dematerialise the economy. This would mean moving away from a business model that is based on products and things and towards a business model based on service.”
Regarding the use of Apps to benefit all sectors that support the tourist industry, the Tourism Minister referred to the linkage with the agricultural sector as an example of what is being pursued and noted the intention to use funding support to provide assistance to the small farmers to be able to access an App so that connectivity can be achieved anywhere in Jamaica where there is supply.
Chairman of the Tourism Linkages Network, Adam Stewart stressed that with 94 percent of today’s travellers requiring WiFi this service must be seen as a must in all areas of a hotel. There was also consensus on the need to use information available on guests to improve the visitor experience and also increase both guestroom revenues and ancillary room revenues. For instanc, smart check-in, whereby on arrival at the hotel guests can go directly to their rooms and use their cell phones to gain entry and receive information about services.
The Knowledge Network is one of five networks implemented by the Ministry of Tourism to further diversify the island’s tourism product and secure higher yields per visitor, while building a competitive industry and creating more jobs for Jamaicans. The other networks are Gastronomy, Shopping, Sports and Entertainment and Health and Wellness.