TALKING POINTS FOR MINISTER OF TOURISM, HON. EDMUND BARTLETT AT THE CLOSING CEREMONY FOR DISTRICT CONSTABLES NATIONAL POLICE COLLEGE OF JAMAICA TWICKENHAM PARK, SPANISH TOWN TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2016
Submitted by admin on Sun, 12/04/2016 - 14:44
My colleague Minister, representatives of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, relatives and friends of the graduates, members of the graduating class, ladies and gentlemen, Good Morning...
First let me say what a privilege it is to be here with you on this very special day. It is an honour to stand here before you to address the first batch of graduates from the new dedicated tourism safety and security District Constables training programme. That is, District Constables whom have been trained to serve the island’s tourist resort areas specifically.
I see before me 89 proud men and women in uniform who have just completed six weeks of rigorous training. Congratulations on your accomplishment; I am sure that you all are anxious and ready to be assigned to your respective communities.
Graduates, everyone one of you here today has a special role to play in safeguarding Jamaica’s tourism and hospitality industry.
Tourism is big business. It is one of the world's largest industries and in many countries the single largest source of investment and employment.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 1.2 billion people travelled the globe for at least one night in 2015, which contributed an amazing US$7.2 trillion to the global economy.
Here at home, we welcomed 3.6 million stopover and cruise visitors combined in 2015, which earned us US$2.5 billion in revenues.
So you can see how very important tourism is to the global economy and for us in Jamaica too, where it provides thousands of direct and indirect jobs, fosters growth in communities and earns billions of dollars in foreign exchange. I dare to say that tourism is the strongest sector in our economy today.
We are repositioning tourism to become a more powerful catalyst for improving the socio-economic conditions of our people.
Secure 5 million visitors by 2021
US$ 5 billion in tourism earnings
Increase the total direct jobs to 125,000
15,000 new rooms.
We therefore need to do everything within our power to protect our tourism industry so it can grow exponentially and benefit more people.
The fact is Jamaica is competing with destinations all over the world for travel dollars. It is therefore critical that we establish a competitive advantage that sets us apart from other international destinations.
This calls for us to provide our visitors with authentic and high quality tourism experiences that make them want to come back to Jamaica again and again. Not only should they want to come back to our beautiful island but recommend us to family and friends too.
This is what we call Destination Assurance – guaranteeing our visitors that their expectations of an outstanding visitor experience will be met.
This brings me to why we are here today. A critical element of Destination Assurance is ensuring the safety and security of our visitors. This is vital to providingquality experiences in tourism.
Now more than ever the success or failure of a tourism destination depends heavily on being able to provide a safe and secure environment for visitors. Therefore providing high qualitytourism experiences which incorporate the principles of safety and security is becoming anoverriding objective of tourist destinations.
Crime is a major concern for destinations globally and we in Jamaica are no exception. It is therefore important that we preserve our reputations as a destination in which crime against tourists is minimal. In fact, we must establish a reputation of being a safe and fun destination to visit.
If our visitors don’t feel free to move around un-harassed and enjoy the the beauty of Jamaica as freely as they want, then very soon there will be a decline in arrivals. In turn, this will result in a decline in business – for hotels, resturants, taxi operators and our artisans and craftpersons.
We have to control crime and harassment in Jamaica if we are to realize the true potential of tourism in terms of consistently increasing our visitor arrivals and providing benefits to Jamaicans.
We want the visitors to come off the cruise ships and out of the hotels and walk around and experience Jamaica. We want them to visit our restaurants, buy our goods and enjoy the island’s many attractions.
For this reason my Ministry has had a long and fruitful relationship with the Ministry of National Security and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). We have collaborated on a number of security-related projects, including immigration, anti-harassment, Jet Ski regulations, rehabilitation of police stations and police mobility in an effort to create an environment where both residents and visitors feel safe to travel across the island and enjoy all that Jamaica has to offer.
To date my Ministry, through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), has committed over $1 billion to the Ministry of National Security to boost safety and security in Jamaica.
These included, to name a few:
$201 million to rehabilitate police stations and other buildings
Over $191 million to purchase motor vehicles and motor bikes to patrol resort areas
Over $45 million for the acquisition of boat engines, and other equipment as part of the Marine Resource Upgrading Programme
$80 million for the commissioning of the CCTV systems
The dedicated tourism safety and security programme from which these fine men and women are graduating today was underwritten by TEF to the tune of $106 million. This financial commitment covers training, uniforms, salaries and other resources.
This training is part of a more comprehensive security framework being fine tuned by a multi-sectoral task force, which includes representatives from the Ministries of Tourism and National Security and the Tourism Product Development Company’s (TPDCo) safety and security team. This complete overhaul of the security apparatus within the tourism sector is intended to enhance its effectiveness.
Our newly minted District Constables, will add an entirely new layer of security that will strengthen the formal security arrangements in the resort communities and help to effectively tackle the scourge of visitor harassment. You will function under a special arm of the JCF, have policing powers and will focus specifically on boosting the safety and security of both local and international visitors to the resort areas. In carrying out these duties you will support the existing Courtesy Corp.
Of the 89 District Constables graduating today 40 will be deployed to the major resort areas of Negril and Montego Bay, while the remainder will be assigned to Falmouth, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio and New Kingston. We will also be adding another 11 officers to bring the initial complement to 100 by the end of the year and we will train a total of 250 officers by 2018.
In addition to matters of law, tactics and human rights, the six-weeks training programme dealt with topics specific to visitor safety and security concerns. Participants also underwent Team Jamaica training to sensitize them to the value of the industry, focussing on tourism awareness, tourism products and services, leadership and motivation as well as customer service.
Graduates, you have a critical role to play in the tourism equation. Your presence will give locals and visitors alike a feeling of security and protection while visiting our resorts.
Your duties go beyond dealing with pickpockets, harassment and unethical behaviour towards Jamaicans and visitors. You are ambassadors who will also promote what is positive about Jamaica, respond to visitor inquiries as well as provide information related to the resort areas and their attractions.
At the same time, as District Constables you serve a wider community in which you will be regularly interacting with the local population. I therefore encourage you to be caretakers of the communities that you police and to firmly uphold the law in a manner that is respectful of visitors and locals alike.
You have chosen a noble occupation that gives you the opportunity to make a difference and I urge you to do so.
Graduates, I will close by sharing with you some practical advice which is important for those of us serving in public office:
Act professionally at all times, even in high pressure situations;
Let honesty and integrity be your guide, even when not under the scrutiny of the public eye; and
On occasions when you may not be treated with respect do not give into the temptation to behave in a disrespectful manner.
Graduates, I want to thank all of you for your willingness to serve, for your commitment and your sacrifice to your country. Some great new District Constables have joined the ranks of the JCF and our communities and our country will be better, safer places thanks to all of you.
The Ministry of Tourism and its agencies remain committed to supporting the JCF as they strive to deliver on their mandate to serve and protect and as we seek to reduce crime in our resort areas and by extension the entire nation.
Thank you, and once again congratulations to the members of the graduating class.