Winners were selected from a group of 9 of Jamaica’s top tourism workers and 10 leading organizations who vied for the awards for excellent service delivery under the Tourism Service Excellence Program (TSEP). The ballroom of the Hyatt Ziva Resort & Spa was the location of the gala event, which returned after a four-year absence.
Massage Therapist, Simone Folkes of Sandals Royal Plantation and Couples San Souci won the coveted National Champion awards for 2016 in the individual and organization categories respectively, as the Jamaica Ministry of Tourism on the weekend rolled out the red carpet for the return of the Tourism Service Excellence Awards. The program is spearheaded by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo).
“This means so much to me I am absolutely elated. I won’t stop here; I’ve wanted to do my best but now that I am recognized I want to do even more,” said a beaming Simone.
General Manager of Couples Sans Souci, Pierre Battaglia, who himself was named the 2011 individual champion in the last staging of the event, was equally proud that his hotel had won the organization award. “It means a lot and is proof of the hard work that my staff puts in day after day to achieve our goals and to all our guests who come to visit us every year at the resort to experience our exclusive services,” he expressed.
In lauding the honorees and semi-finalists Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett exalted workers in the tourism sector as the treasure and pride of the industry and the foremost reason that visitors keep coming to Jamaica.
He added that “TSEP is an integral part of our efforts to boost our tourism sector’s competitiveness by motivating stakeholders to create compelling experiences and adopt best practices. As we celebrate the achievements of our tourism industry, we are mindful that we must give credit where credit is due. Our success as a leading tourist destination would not be possible without the hard work and commitment of our world class tourism workers.”
The enthusiasm of being awarded was also shared by regional winners. In the individual category, Wilfred Chambers, a tour guide at the Bob Marley Museum, won for Kingston while Scuba Diving Instructor at Negril Adventure Divers, Glenville Edwards won for Negril. In Montego Bay the regional winner was Customs Officer, Winsome Wynter, while Simone Folkes took the honors for Ocho Rios and Lifeguard at Trident Hotel, Arthur Thaxter, won for Port Antonio.
Among organizations, the regional winners were Jamaica Pegasus for Kingston, Couples Sans Souci for Ocho Rios, Sunset at the Palms Resort was named champion for Negril, Trident Hotel won for Port Antonio, Appleton Estate Rum Tour won for the South Coast and VIP Attractions took the prize for Montego Bay.
The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) was the main sponsor of the event. Other major sponsors include Caribbean Airlines, Sandals, FLOW, EXIM Bank, Finn Partners and the RJR Gleaner Communications Group with prizes being provided by several other partner entities.