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· Dianne McIntosh, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of National Security
· Godfrey Dyer, Chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund
· Ian Dear, Chairman Tourism Product Development Company Ltd.
· Dr. Andrew Spencer, Executive Director Tourism Product Development Company Ltd
· Dr. Carey Wallace, Executive Director Tourism Enhancement Fund
· First, let me say what a privilege it is to be here with you on this very special day. It is indeed an honour to stand here before you to address the second batch of graduates from the new dedicated tourism safety and security District Constables Training Programme. That is, District Constables that have been trained to serve the island’s tourist resort areas specifically.
· I see before me 93 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, every 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 contributing an amazing US$7.2 trillion to the global economy last year and accounting for 1 in every 11 jobs globally.
· Here at home, Jamaica welcomed a record 3.8 million visitors (stopover and cruise combined) in 2016. This represents an increase of 3.9 percent over 2015 when Jamaica welcomed 3.6 million visitors overall.
· Last year we earned over US$2.5 billion from tourism and so far this year we have earned over US$1.2 billion putting us on track for another record breaking year. Just yesterday evening, I welcoming just under 300 passengers from one inaugural nonstop flight from Germany; yet another milestone for our tourism sector and goes to show how quickly the sector is developing.
· So you can see how very important tourism is to the global economy and for us in Jamaica too, where it provides thousands of direct and indirect jobs, fosters growth in communities and earns billions of dollars in foreign exchange. I dare to say that tourism is the strongest sector in our economy today.
· Our Ministry is actively repositioning tourism to become a more powerful catalyst for improving the socio-economic conditions of our people.
· Our targets:
§ Secure 5 million visitors by 2021
§ US$ 5 billion in tourism earnings
§ Increase the total direct jobs to 125,000
§ 15,000 new rooms.
· Graduates, we will not be able to achieve our targets without your support and the broader support of the security programme we have put in place.
· Allow me to give a little background this programme.
· In the old dispensation, Tourism Courtesy Corp officers or contracted security guards were responsible for the policing of the tourism industry. While the police gave support, activities were not sustained or entirely effective due to limited resources.
· In an industry where visitor safety and experience are of utmost importance and in a country where the industry is the lifeblood of the people, the decision was taken in 2016 to expand TPDCo’s Visitor Safety Programme through the introduction of the District Constable Programme. This would entail a dedicated and increased police presence in resort areas across the island.
· In the first phase, one hundred (100) DC’s were recruited, trained and deployed in the six resort areas (Negril, Montego Bay, Falmouth, Runaway Bay/Ocho Rios, Portland, and Kingston).
· That programme cost in the region of J$100 million covering all costs associated with recruitment and training as well as resources (vehicles, equipment, uniforms) and salaries for a year.
· Graduates, ladies and gentlemen all, the primary objective of this programme is to provide sustained policing in these areas in an attempt to minimize harassment and anti-social types of activities against our valued visitors.
MOU AND JOINED UP GOVERNMENT
· In the spirit of joined up government and our continued efforts to work together in resolving our nation’s challenges, an MOU was established between the Jamaica Constabulary Force and TPDCo and the first one hundred district constables were deployed exclusively in these resort areas.
· As part of the MOU these constables will not be reassigned to any other duty except in exceptional circumstances where authority is obtained from the Commissioner of Police or his designee. This was deliberately done to ensure that we do not lose focus of our ultimate goals.
(Note that district constables are supervised by the police command in the particular area.)
· Graduates, your training has given you special skills to allow you to maintain a tourism focus on security and safety. This is why knowledge of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB Act), Community Based Policing, TEAM Jamaica, Safe Encounter and Tactical Skills, Statement Writing, NSWMA Act, Organizational Values, Authority to Arrest and Search, Observation, Perception & Local Knowledge represents key elements in your training.
· Graduates, your training and deployment came at a cost of Two Hundred Million Dollars ($200M). This includes boosting significantly material resources (equipment and vehicles) and salaries for one year and will vastly improve our deployment strategies.
· The people of Jamaica expect much for you and I urge you all to do your very best with your very important roles as safeguards to the successful development of our nation through tourism development and related activities.
DEPLOYMENT & DESTINATION ASSURANCE
· Ladies and Gentlemen, the specific operational zones for the Visitor Safety Unit (VSE) are cruise shipping piers; commercial districts (especially those frequented by visitors); craft markets; beaches and major attractions. Constables will be strategically placed in areas identified as hot spots.
· We therefore need to do everything within our powers 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.
· A critical element of Destination Assurance is ensuring the safety and security of our visitors. This is vital to providing quality experiences in tourism. And that is why, ladies and gentlemen the establishment of Destination Assurance Councils, which we launched recently, in conjunction with our Visitor Safety and security programme, are essential to the seamless, successful and rapid development of the sector.
· Now more than ever the success or failure of a tourist destination depends heavily on being able to provide a safe and secure environment for visitors. Therefore, providing high quality tourism experiences which incorporate the principles of safety and security is becoming an overriding 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 reputation as a destination in which crime against tourists are minimal.
· If our visitors don’t feel free to move around un-harassed and enjoy 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, restaurants, 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.
STRONG RELATIONSHIP WITH MINISTRY OF NATIONAL SECURITY
· This is why the Tourism Ministry has had such 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 well over $1 billion to the Ministry of National Security to boost safety and security across the island.
· These include, to name a few:
o $201 million to rehabilitate police stations and other buildings
o Over $191 million to purchase motor vehicles and motor bikes to patrol resort areas
o Over $45 million for the acquisition of boat engines, and other equipment as part of the Marine Resource Upgrading Programme
o $80 million for the commissioning of the CCTV systems
· And of course this dedicated tourism safety and security programme from which you fine men and women are graduating today was underwritten by TEF
CHARGE TO GRADUATES
· 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.
· 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 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.
WE ARE ALL PROUD OF YOU!