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I am delighted to launch this Russian & Spanish Languages Skills Training Programme for Tourism Workers. This groundbreaking initiative is both timely and strategic given our ongoing drive to expand our reach into new and existing markets such as Russia, Spain and South America in order to diversify our markets and boost arrivals.
This initiative will complement our recent successes in making it easier for persons from these markets to enter Jamaica by relaxing visa restrictions for a number of Latin American and Eastern European countries.
This effort has also been bolstered by the strategic steps we have taken to boost airlift from gateways in these countries including our partnership with Copa Airlines which has resulted in encouraging growth out of Latin America through Copa’s hub in Panama City as well as direct service by Transearo Airlines from Moscow.
The programme targets frontline tourism workers and seeks to equip them with basic language skills to enable them to effectively engage visitors in brief conversation at points of entry to the island and other customer contact areas. It will entail cultural sensitivity sessions in order to expose workers to the way of life of visitors from non-English speaking countries – primarily Russia, Spain and South American countries, thereby enabling them to better cater to the needs of this target market.
Classes are to be held in the resort areas of Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios and will target immigration and customs officers, red cap porters, taxi and bus drivers, craft vendors and workers in hotels and attractions, as well as Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) personnel and other frontline staff in the tourism industry.
Through this programme, which is being administered by the Ministry through the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), 300 participants will each be supplied with material, including tourism handouts in Russian and Spanish so they can learn even while they are on the job.
The Russian tourism market is a very important one for us and targeting it is a deliberate strategy on our part to diversify our source markets. Having cited Russia as an emerging market for Jamaica in my Sectoral Presentation to Parliament earlier this year, let me remind you that earlier this month we welcomed upgraded service by Russian carrier, Transaero Airlines which has replaced its Boeing 777 aircraft with a Boeing 747 with capacity of over 500 seats into Montego Bay.
Of note is that these visitors have high purchasing power and usually stay for 10 nights, compared to the much shorter stays by visitors from our traditional markets.
We also have flights out of the Czech Republic starting in December, and are on target for two flights out of Stockholm, Sweden, one starting in November and the other in December.
These are potentially rich source markets for Jamaica and making such an impactful entry will significantly boost our market diversification drive in order to ensure sustainable growth in the sector.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you will agree that it is incumbent on us to prepare our tourism workers to make our visitors feel comfortable while they are here, and interacting with Jamaicans who speak their language is one sure way of doing so.
You will therefore agree with me that the three million dollars ($3m) allocated by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) for this Foreign Language Skills Programme is money well spent.
We are confident that this programme will greatly enhance our tourism product by making our workers more sensitive to the needs of our guests who speak foreign languages; and equipping them with basic communication skills that will enhance customer satisfaction levels and ensure repeat visitors.
I must also commend the Ministry and its agencies, as well as our various partners for successfully implementing this programme and I wish all the participants success in this important venture.
Con esas pocas palabras ahora me declaro el Programa de Formación de Habilidades Idiomas ruso y español para los Trabajadores Turismo lanzó oficialmente ...
[With those few words I now declare the Russian & Spanish Languages Skills Training Programme for Tourism Workers officially launched...]