A major thrust launched last year was the Tourism District Constable programme, which saw 100 officers being deployed in the resort areas.
Another 100 constables were deployed with the discontinuation of the Tourism Courtesy Corps programme in May of this year.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ yesterday (August 29), Executive Director of TPDCo, Dr. Andrew Spencer, said that this programme was established from a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between TPDCo and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), to prevent soliciting and harassment and to allow for the protection of the country, ensuring continued growth and sustainability of the tourism sector.
“We want to see the statistics of crime against tourists at zero… and we also believe that in providing 200 constables, we are not just providing security for our tourists but for locals, so it is a safe and secure environment for all,” Dr. Spencer emphasised.
Some 50 district constables have now been assigned to Montego Bay, 45 in Negril, 44 in Ocho Rios, 22 in Falmouth, 13 in Kingston, and the remainder in Port Antonio and on the south coast.
The Executive Director informed that under the programme, the TPDCo has provided motor vehicles, handcuffs, radios and other necessary equipment for the constables to undertake their daily duties.
The district constables underwent the regular JCF training in addition to the Team Jamaica certification, which covered the history of Jamaica, customer service and tourism awareness.
In terms of the anti-harassment initiatives, Dr. Spencer said that beginning October, the TPDCo will be facilitating training for some 1,200 contract carriage operators in the Ocho Rios, Falmouth and Montego Bay resort areas.
The course, dubbed ‘Cultural Sensitivity Training’, entails understanding the importance of personal space, the value of tourism and anti-harassment practices.
Craft vendors in the various resort areas will also benefit from customer service and anti-harassment training through an initiative titled ‘Warm Welcome Campaign’ to be spearheaded by TPDCo, in partnership with The Travel Foundation.
The Travel Foundation is a charity that works in partnership with leading tourism organisations to improve the impacts of tourism and shape a positive future for destinations.
“The level of harassment that one would speak about a few decades ago from craft vendors is certainly on the decline, and so we now have to be targeting other areas, such as the contract carriers, to minimise the level of passion, which may be interpreted as antagonism,” Dr. Spencer noted.
An anti-harassment video, dubbed ‘Cum Yah’, has been produced to further discuss the issue of harassment, its causes, effects and possible solutions, and also to get buy-in to the required attitude and behaviour changes.
The video will be a teaching tool at the various training and sensitisation sessions and will also be distributed to schools, youth groups and other associations in the resort areas.