MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica; August 12, 2016: Over 5,000 young Jamaicans have so far benefitted under the Ministry of Tourism’s Spruce Up Jamaica Tourism Summer Intern Programme, at a cost of over $100 million. This was revealed by Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, as he addressed interns at the Montego Bay Convention Centre yesterday (August 11), during a Rally of the Interns event organized to engage participants.
The programme, which is being lauded by participants and tourism partners alike is funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and administered by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo).
Started in 2008, the programme was designed to engage young people so they could be exposed to the vision of tourism and feel a part of the industry. During the summer break high school and college students are assigned in batches to work with partner entities for three weeks as summer interns.
This summer, the interns number over 700, and were assigned to work in over 100 partner organizations from various sub sectors such as transportation, accommodations, attractions, water sports, the travel trade, and other sectors linked to tourism. Establishments to which interns are assigned have the option of keeping them on for longer periods and this has happened for several of the interns.
Minister Bartlett said there was more to the programme than exposing young people to tourism “as a discreet economic activity, but to use it as an opportunity to open your minds to a broad spectrum of activities that create an experience that people travel across the world to enjoy at a price.” In that regard, he challenged them to play their part in ensuring that Jamaicans and visitors feel safe in resort areas and enhancing the sanitation and cleanliness of the country.
According to the Tourism Minister, “it’s a mental attitude that we are honing, culturing and building in this industry and it is you the young people that will help us to redefine the great experience that Jamaica is for our visitors.”
Programme participant, Shavone Smith hoped that in impacting their lives, it would also help them to become agents of change while Lydia Denny said “it was a great experience” which taught her to respect others. Also, Chad Anthony Ellis learnt the value of good customer service.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Omar Robinson, said with the participation of both public and private sector stakeholders “this initiative has provided valuable knowledge and experience to our youth since its inception. We believe that youth development should remain a top priority for Jamaica’s continued success.”
Mr. Robinson added that, “it will require a sustained joint public-private sector partnership for us to significantly reduce unemployment and programmes such as this play a vital role in advancing the development of our nation as our young people will eventually be the leaders of tomorrow and the agents of change.”