MOUNT SALEM, St James
Executive Director of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) Dr Andrew Spencer says the community of Mount Salem in St James, which was designated a zone of special operations (ZOSO) last September, will benefit from a raft of initiatives including training and scholarships in tourism-related areas.
“We want to ensure that we are doing our part, so we are actually giving out through TPDCo scholarships for Team Jamaica and other types of training,” said Dr Spencer.
“We also want to use this as an opportunity to show that there is a chance for these individuals, some of them who are not yet working in the tourism industry, to have an avenue … because, indeed, the Team Jamaica training is a requirement for many entities to be able to get into that space and to be able to have what we like to call not just employment, but employment that makes you feel that you have value, worthwhile employment.”
The cost of doing a Team Jamaica programme, which TPDCo outsources to approved training partners, is roughly $15,000.
“And so, we believe that in giving out a number of these scholarships, we are giving people the skills, we are letting them understand tourism, we are letting them understand their role in tourism. But really, it is all about them (community), understanding the impact that tourism has on their lives. And so, that is what we are really trying to drive, and so we are providing a number of these scholarships,” Dr Spencer pointed out.
Among the TPDco and Team Jamaica intervention training areas are: craft training, tour guide training, customer training, and language training. However, Dr Spencer made it clear, “But we have to determine what the needs of the community are. We don’t want to impose training without understanding what the needs are and what the interests are.”
He noted that TPDco is willing to participate as long as is needed in the designated ZOSO areas.
Dr Spencer in citing Airbnb (an online platform that allows people to market their houses for rent to visitors to the island), pointed out that it is the mission of TPDCo to ensure that everyone has access to the tourism dollar.
“People want to come into the communities and enjoy the community, and we know that Mount Salem has a lot to offer. And so, we want to get the entire community really energised about tourism, excited about what’s to come, because we see the growth that’s coming as not just something that is to benefit one particular set or group in our society, but we want it to benefit everybody. And so, Mount Salem, certainly you are at the top of the list of communities that should benefit, given how just close you are to all the tourism happenings,” reasoned Dr Spencer.
Airbnb, which started in 2008, is an online community marketplace which allows for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations and experiences around the world.
Dr Spencer was speaking recently during a recent social intervention programme held in Mount Salem dubbed, “Bring Back the Love”.
Some 18 agencies and ministries participated in this initiative, which was organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) in partnership with the Mount Salem community.
For his part, executive director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) Dr Carey Wallace said his organisation is committed to projects that “create peace, opportunities and social inclusion in our communities, starting here in Montego Bay, but we anticipate that it will be across the length and breadth of Jamaica”.
By: Anthony Lewis