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KINGSTON, Jamaica; December 9, 2021: Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has announced that his Ministry will implement a special Winter Tourist Season Capacity Building Support Programme for the island's craft traders. The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) is spearheading the initiative, which will provide grants to licensed craft vendors to assist them in preparing for the anticipated influx of tourists during the Winter Tourist Season, which begins on December 15.
Bartlett and a team of key officials from the Ministry and its public bodies, including the TEF, kick-started their engagements and consultations with the craft vendors to sensitize them about the programme, during a meeting with craft representatives, in Ocho Rios earlier today (December 9, 2021).
It was also emphasised that prior to today’s meeting representatives of the Port Authority of Jamaica, Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), the Jamaica Vacations Limited (JAMVAC) and other tourism entities had met to review the dispatch system at cruise ports to ensure that COVID-19 compliant and TPDCo certified craft markets across the resort areas are able get more traffic from cruise visitors to secure well needed tourism earnings.
"Our craft traders play a very critical role in the tourism value chain. Therefore as the tourism industry is rebounding, with data indicating that we will have an influx of visitors from our key markets such as North America and Europe, following our recent major marketing blitz, we want to ensure that they are fully prepared to reap the benefits," said Minister Bartlett.
"I am therefore happy to announce that we will be providing financial assistance to the 651 licensed craft vendors across the island to help them build capacity to meet the increasing demand for craft items. We understand that their industry has been relatively inactive for most of the year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Therefore, we know that these funds will go a long way in helping them to get back on their feet," he added.
Since August 2021, Jamaica has welcomed 16,237 cruise ship passengers across a total of 10 different cruise calls, according to the Jamaica Tourist Board. The rebound of cruise has significantly impacted the craft industry, with trips to the markets being included in cruise itineraries.
"Just recently, we had three buses filled with cruise visitors to the Ocho Rios Craft Market, six buses at the Pineapple Craft Market and five buses to Olde Market from the Emerald Princess Cruise ship. So, we know that there will continue to be a steady inflow of customers for the craft vendors, with cruise returning to all major ports across the island," said the Minister.