OAS Craft Enhancement Project July 12, 2016 Speaking Notes for Minister Edmund Bartlett
Submitted by admin on Sun, 12/04/2016 - 14:44
Mrs. Jennifer Griffith, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism
Mrs. Jeanelle Van Glaanenweygel, Director of the OAS Country Office
Mr. Ian Dear, Chairman of the Tourism Product Development Company
Mr. Clyde Harrison, Executive Director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund
Mr. Dennis Hickey, Executive Director of the Tourism Product Development Company
Members of the Board and members of the Executive Management Team
Mr. Omar Robinson, President of the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association
Representatives from Partner Ministries and Agencies
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Organisation of American States (OAS) for your support in this crucial initiative and to I extend my heartiest congratulations to the Tourism Product Development Company Limited (TPDCO) as the executing agency, and the oversight body which was comprised of the Ministry of Tourism and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ). I am thrilled that we took this important step to participate in this regional project entitled Craft Enhancement and Business Planning Training to Support Human Capacity Building in the Public and Private Sector. TPDCo actually provides the main source of training within the creative industries islandwide.
If you have been following the agenda of the Ministry of Tourism in this, my second iteration, you would realize that strengthening the human capital is my fifth pillar for generating growth in the tourism sector. I am therefore thrilled to participate in this project closing ceremony which marks a key step in the path towards enhanced creativity, growth and job creation.
Some may be wondering what the Ministry has to do with an initiative such as this. But what people do not realize is that while we term this an industry, Tourism is not really an industry but a series of moving parts which come together to form an experience. Craft is one of the moving parts. It is a subset of the manufacturing sector and a part of our tourism linkages network. When you all create your unique pieces, you create a conversation piece; you help me to make this destination opinionated so as to craft experiences that will stay with our visitors.
This programme comprised of two very key components: practical training and business development. All 150 craft producers who completed this training were trained in various media such as fibre, textile, recycled material, bamboo, and papier mache. Having enhanced their skills with such media, they are now able to take advantage of the entrepreneurial skills which they garnered from the second component of this programme. This now puts these individuals in a position to bring their innate creativity to the table while applying the skills they have learnt, to diversify their product and to manage the marketing and finance aspects of their business.
The conclusion of this programme comes at a fine time, as we seek to achieve economic growth and job creation through the tourism sector. The HEART Trust/NTA has done extensive research on the labour market for various industries, including the creative industries. There are some key elements that I would like to highlight from a SWOT Analysis outlined within their research.
In looking at the strengths of the creative industry, they mentioned the fact that we Jamaicans are talented people within this creative area; that Jamaica has a strong national brand; and that there is an effective presence of support institutions such as TPDCo, HEART Trust/ NTA and Jamaica Business Development Corporation.
In looking at weaknesses, it was found that there is often times a lack of outlined national standards within the industry and a lack of innovation and creativity support in a structured way for the industry. It is a known fact that a part of our problem is the lack of diversity in our craft products, and this is why I am delighted that this training programme would have prepared you all well to diversify.
In looking at opportunities, the research pointed to the access to the tourism market. I’d like to spend a little time on this. We have a tendency to produce “sample” rather than “ample”. What do I mean by this? Allow me to take this out of the realm of craft for a moment and allude to all tourism linkages – food and beverage, entertainment, services. When we have our conversations at the top level, we want to be able to make demands saying that once the product or service is of a certain standard, we would expect the hotels to utilize our local products and services. We cannot do this, however, if we do not have a steady, reliable flow of products and services. It is now up to you to formulate your business plan with certain considerations: 1) can I produce sufficient craft items or whatever the product may be? 2) Do I need to seek out a business partner to combine forces in order to provide the sufficient quantity and quality? 3) What must I put in place to make sure that I can produce this steady supply? 4) What will my contingency plan be in the event of unforeseeable circumstances? 5) How can I keep my quality up while keeping my prices down?
The final stage of the analysis encompasses the threats. One of the main threats is the competitive pricing from other countries. Before we become despondent, we have to remember that if the quality is excellent, and the marketing is done right people will buy. It is about value for money; bang for the buck. You may find yourself in a position where you’re breaking even or even making a loss at the start, but this is where you build your reputation. Weigh the supply against the demand, do high-quality work, market well and you will be surprised to see where you will end up.
This initiative has pleased me also, because as you may have heard, we will be building artisan villages in our resort areas across the island; the first facility will be built in Ocho Rios, with others to be established in Montego Bay, Falmouth, Port Antonio, and Negril over the next five years.
The Artisan Villages will be “one stop shops” for authentic Jamaican food, music, heritage and craft. They are the appropriate areas to sell craft items and improve the tourism product. They will showcase the best of the island, while enhancing interaction between visitors and locals. The facilities will provide an avenue for Jamaican artists and craftsmen to expose and express their creativity by producing unique indigenous items, while limiting the volume of imported craft items that are being sold in the industry.
This is not to be confused with craft villages. *Expound on Cote d’Ivoire experience* - This falls under our Spruce Up Jamaica initiative. Spruce Up, contrary to popular opinion, is not just a beautification programme; but it is a dynamic programme with an element entitled “mind, body and spirit”. We want you the people to really feel the impact of tourism.
The Ministry of Tourism is working to streamline and regulate the craft sector to ensure that the genuine traders, who have been in the business for many years and have invested a lot of time and money, can reap the benefits.
The craft traders will also be assisted with putting together videos and promotional material, which will be used to market the industry in hotels and aboard cruise ships. I will also be establishing a Craft Institute, which is crucial to enhancing training and educational opportunities for current and future workers in tourism.
We hear the cry of those who want to go into business for themselves, but are unable to access funding. In response to this issue the Tourism Enhancement Fund has partnered with the EXIM Bank of Jamaica to provide a suite of tourism loan products at low interest rates to make it easier for micro, small and medium tourism enterprises to establish themselves and flourish.
I also want you to know that much of the work has been done for you. The craft industry is a subset of the manufacturing industry, and different players within manufacturing have collaborated to create bodies such as the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association which play a significant role on the Tourism Linkages Council. Coming out of this very programme is also the creation of the Virtual Resource Centre and an Artisan database. I am pleased to see that we are using the technology to become more effective and efficient. Not only is it a marketing tool, but it will also be a resource tool where you will find videos and manuals demonstrating the production of craft, using the media that you worked with during the course of this programme. This medium should be kept current in order to foster innovation within the industry which will keep us competitive and allow us to market at better prices.
If you are really ready to take your skill and business to the next level within the tourism sector, I encourage you to have a look at the Tourism Demand Study on the Ministry’s website. This document, has outlined, according to industry, what the hotels are importing because of the insufficient supply in Jamaica. Research by HEART Trust also tells us which positions are in demand and which positions are oversupplied, and it is even organized according to parish. With this information and training programmes such as this the sky is really the limit.
I therefore close by thanking you again for taking the time out to participate in what I believe will be a pivotal programme in your career path. I again thank OAS, TEF and TPDCo for being the driving forces behind this initiative. There is a great need for this type of training to enhance our human capital and boost our sector. Partnerships, such as the dynamic partnership forged here, are extremely crucial in personal and national development.
Congratulations again and I hope to see more of you as you participate more within the sector. Make sure to keep in contact with each other as you build your network. Lean on each other for support and do not stop innovating.
According to STATIN there are approximately 156,950 individuals within the occupation group entitled “craft and related trades workers”, amounting to 12% of the labour force. Of this number, 12% are unemployed. This translates to some 18,975 individuals within this occupation group who are not working.
Manufacturing Industry: Labour force totals 81,225 with 72,975 employed; 10% of the labour force is unemployed