ROSE HALL, St James — As it marks its 26th anniversary, the Tourism Product Development Company Limited (TPDCo) has spruced up, rebranded and relaunched its Team Jamaica Training Programme.
Since its launch more than a quarter of a century ago, TPDCo has helped to shape the tourism landscape in Jamaica into a well-respected destination through the training of stakeholders in the industry.
During an unveiling ceremony held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Thursday it revealed that it has now added supervisory and management level courses to the basic training provided under the Team Jamaica programme. The courses are being highlighted as pathways to excellence, equipping participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to elevate the country’s hospitality industry to new heights.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Jennifer Griffith, who represented Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett at the event, gave a breakdown of the two added levels.
“Level Two will be at a supervisory level. And Team Jamaica will foster leaders and individuals who have remarkable influence and compassion. We will delve into essential qualities such as leadership, motivation, conflict resolution, employment relations, managing customer service, and tourism ethics. Through these skills, individuals who are operating or aspire to operate at this level will be able to guide and inspire their team, ensuring our visitors receive that much higher level of service. Also, our visitors will receive our heartfelt hospitality. We are interested in how we invest in our individuals and want to make valuable and genuine connections. We are interested in those who must learn [how to] better resolve conflicts. And learn more about diplomacy. And remember, it is the will to uphold the ethical standards that make Jamaica a beacon of hospitality,” stated Griffith.
The permanent secretary said the pinnacle of the Level Three programme is to “equip individuals with an in-depth understanding of our industry”.
“Topics such as tourism management, destination management, policy and planning and tourism entrepreneurship will be explored. These visionary leaders will shape the future of Jamaican tourism, steering our industry towards sustainable practices, innovation and global excellence. They will be the architects of our policies, the pioneers of new destinations, and entrepreneurs who will transform ideas into remarkable tourism experiences,” she said.
As a means of supporting and elevating what is considered an exceptional programme, Griffith said “we have carved out a robust communication campaign across multiple media platforms, including a brand new website [www.teamjamaicatraining.com], which should be dedicated to Team Jamaica”.
The permanent secretary, who started her journey in tourism in 1997, was part of the planning of Team Jamaica that same year. She noted that the programme is evolving.
“Ladies and gentlemen the certification continues to evolve and remains relevant to a well-run industry which seeks to ensure a positive display experience every time. I believe our enviable 42 per cent repeat visitors is a testament to the success of the programme, which must meet every tourism worker on the value chain,” stated Griffith.
“Whether you’re in craft, transportation, or you’re a red cap porter, immigration officer, tour guide, a hotel attraction or restaurant worker, a manager or whatever other [role], particularly in the tourism industry, the programme gives you an appreciation of the importance of a tourism product, your essential role and the value of Team Jamaica. Indeed, it sparks enthusiasm and prepares you to be an ambassador for Jamaica,” added Griffith.
At present, tourism directly and indirectly touches the lives of more than 350,000 Jamaicans.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association Robin Russell, in welcoming the refreshed product, noted that with several hotel rooms slated to come on stream, it is important to find and train workers who may be among those who make up the country’s 4.5 per cent unemployment rate.
“It is important that we reach into the nooks and crannies of where workers can come from. Some of the places where these workers are coming from are not very familiar with what tourism is. So, you get somebody from Spanish Town and you get somebody from Jackson Bay in Clarendon that doesn’t even know who a tourist is. And you carry them to MoBay and say alright, let’s get to work. They did not grow up in hospitality. They didn’t see their parents doing it. They didn’t see people around them doing it. They weren’t taught it in school. And this is where Team Jamaica will play an integral role in getting those persons in tourism and getting them to be functional, getting them to be as friendly and have the information that they will need to speak to and transfer it to our guests,” said Russell.
Executive Director of the Tourism Product Development Company Wade Mars said the programme is excellent but the aim is to make it better. He said the upgraded product, which will set a new standard in the industry, is proof of the company’s commitment to the industry by empowering employees.
“We’re not just investing in individuals. We are investing in the future of Jamaica’s tourism. We are proud to say that this programme will set a new benchmark for excellence in the industry, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and setting our sights on enhanced levels of professionalism and service,” stated Mars.
During Thursday’s event, more than a dozen pioneers of Team Jamaica were awarded for their contribution to the tourism sector over the years.