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KINGSTON, Jamaica; August 14, 2019: In the past six years, some 3900 youth have benefitted from the Tourism Enhancement Fund’s (TEF) Summer Internship Programme (SIP), which introduces participants (between 16-25 years) to the world of work and assists them with gaining professional experience.
This year’s internship programme gave some 649 high school and tertiary students the opportunity to intern in tourism and non-tourism fields at 90 private and public sector entities across the island. In addition, TEF collaborated with Jamaica Association for the Deaf to place 10 hearing impaired students.
Speaking to a packed house at the programme’s closing ceremony, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett told the interns that their postings would have given them a “very practical and hands on appreciation of the many moving parts that must come together seamlessly to create the tourism experience that we sell to the world.” The ceremony took place today at the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston.
Noting that some interns may have wondered in the process how significant their jobs were to tourism, Minister Bartlett explained the five pillars essential to tourism growth (new products, new markets, new investments, development of human capital and new partnerships) and the importance of partnerships that bring the many moving parts of tourism together.
“You may wonder why you went to a paramedical facility to work. Because we are involved in creating three key S’s that are important to those five pillars – safety, security and seamlessness. So, to enable safety and have an understanding of safety you now have to go where the providers of safety reside. And it’s not just the police but the hospitals,” said the Tourism Minister, noting that health security is a critical part of the Destination Assurance that makes Jamaica a place where people want to go to.
“So we need trauma centres and we need proper clinics, trained nurses that can respond quickly and the best doctors. We also need the best equipment for medical care. So you see just within the sphere of medicine – another moving part – how we are securing the safety of our visitors,” Minister Bartlett continued.
He pointed out that the providers of security and the creation of a seamless system through connectivity were equally important to tourism’s proper functioning and success.
“These are what cause tourism to happen and so therefore when we do these summer internship programmes it is to expose you to these areas that are not in the hotels where traditionally you see tourism. We deliberately didn’t post you at hotels for that purpose so you understand how broad, how extensive, how inclusive tourism is; how deep and wide the value chain of tourism is; and how when you train in all these various disciplines you are really preparing yourself to give service,” he said.
He noted that the focus of SIP is customer service and service excellence, which is part of the broader policy of the Ministry of Tourism concerning human capital development and as part of professionalizing the tourism sector through the Ministry’s educational arm, the Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation.
This year, interns were taken through formal training in customer service, business and office etiquette and leadership development with special focus on Guest Service Gold Tourism for which they will be certified. This certificate course was offered in partnership with the American Hotel and Lodging Educational institute (AHLEI).