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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica; February 3, 2016: Jamaican workers have been credited in large part for the success of the local tourism sector, which saw some 3.69 million visitors in 2015. Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, described them as the “the bedrock of our world-class tourism industry” as he gave the keynote address at yesterday’s inaugural Eminence Awards for Hyatt Ziva and Zilara staff in Rose Hall, Montego Bay.
Addressing staff, awardees and guests, the Minister lauded the employees of Hyatt Ziva and Zilara, noting that their hard work had helped to make the resorts a resounding success.
“You are one of the most, if not the most, important assets for our tourism and hospitality organizations. You are the difference that enables us to provide exceptional service to visitors, exceed consumer expectations and achieve that much needed competitive advantage,” Dr. McNeill told the resorts’ workers.
Noting that people were an integral part of the tourism product experience, Minister McNeill told the hotel workers, “It is ultimately the experience that visitors take away that determines the success of their visit. For this reason, each one of you here this evening makes the difference in whether visitors come back again and again.”
He also pointed out that consumers’ expectations for quality were rising as the industry grew worldwide and concurrently, competition among the players in the industry, both nationally and internationally, was intensifying.
The Tourism Minister lauded Hyatt Ziva and Zilara for recognizing the commitment, loyalty and hard work of their employees and the important role they play in their success. “The Government too recognizes the tremendous value that our tourism workers bring to the sector. For this reason we are developing structured programmes to benefit workers in the sector,” said Dr. McNeill.
He informed the audience that a contributory pension scheme for tourism workers was slated for implementation in January 2017, which would ensure that those who have given years of exemplary service to tourism could retire without financial worries.
Also, discussion has started with the National Housing Trust to develop workable strategies for the provision of housing for tourism workers.
Pointing to a bright future for the industry, Minister McNeill said the sector was enjoying an unprecedented wave of investment by both local and foreign investors, with some J$64 billion in investments since 2012 and that over 2,500 new rooms currently under construction were expected to generate thousands of new jobs.
“That is why we are expanding our world class training programmes so we can increase our cadre of skilled workers trained and certified to take advantage of opportunities during construction of new properties and on completion of these resorts. We are actively collaborating with the Ministry of Education, HEART Trust NTA and other tertiary institutions to roll out these programmes,” he stated.
With the objective being “to equip ourselves to better benefit from this new and far-reaching development of the sector,” Dr. McNeill said he was committed to ensuring that tourism was used as a tool for social and economic development from which every Jamaican could benefit.
Fifteen members of staff received awards in twelve categories. The top award – ‘Superstar of the Year’ – went to Peter Bartley of the resort’s Engineering Department. He received a motor vehicle, which was presented to him by Minister McNeill, General Manager for Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall and Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, Mr. Diego Concha and the hotel’s Director of Human Resources, Betty Ann Brown.