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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica, Wednesday, November 20, 2019: Jamaica’s drive towards professionalizing its tourism industry is moving towards classifying certified workers for the purpose of improved remuneration.
Through the Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation, established by the Ministry of Tourism, 1300 workers have so far been certified as professionals in their respective disciplines. Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett says “the next move is to classify the workers.” This will see them being graded according to classification.
This was outlined by Minister Bartlett at a long service awards for 78 employees of the Round Hill Hotel and Villas last night. He said a lot of emphasis was being put on training as “We are building a professional institution as well as a professional industry.”
Mr. Bartlett said at the point of the workforce being classified and remunerated according to classification “We would now have a brand new labour market arrangement in tourism.” He explained that a new approach will have to be taken when employing certified professionals in the industry with regards to tenure of service. “It would be a brand new ball game to emerge in tourism,” he said, noting that unlike in former years, the industry had moved away from employing on a seasonal basis.
The tourism Minister said the underlying factor behind all that was being done, was to put people at the center because it was the people who made everything happen.
“You were the pioneers; you were the ones who caused Jamaica to be what it is today in terms of our tourism standing in the world and our stature as a major tourism destination,” he told the workers with records of service ranging from 10 to 45 years, at the 66-year-old hotel.
With the development of artificial intelligence (AI) globally and talk that the new tourism is going to be all about automation, Mr. Bartlett opined that while robotics could help to do better and make it easier and more efficient “they cannot replace the people of tourism because tourism is about people.”
Regarding visitor arrivals, he reiterated that Jamaica was now having year-round tourism and with record numbers in succeeding years, arrivals should hit the 4-million mark this year. He said last month a historical 250,000 tourists came to Jamaica when in former years hotels, would have been closed and workers laid off.
He said tourism was now the number one industry in Jamaica, projecting to earn this year US$3.7 billion, leading in contribution to gross domestic product and “Today is the largest contributor to the economic growth of Jamaica.”
Minister Bartlett shared with the Round Hill workers that “For the first time in our history Jamaica is leading the world in terms of worker safety and security.” The Tourism Workers Pension Plan which is expected to be fully operational in early 2020, is a major contributor to that and “Sets an example to the entire world as to the type of social security and safety net that can be provided for the workers of this industry,” he expressed with pride.