Twelve hundred youths from across the island will be employed for the summer holidays in the tourism sector as part of a summer programme being rolled out by the tourism ministry, beginning this month.

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett told the Observer that the young people have been selected from various high schools, universities and colleges across the island.
He said the applicants were chosen based on recommendations from member of parliaments and other interest groups.

“This programme will stem the tide of unemployment, hopelessness and crime in the society while giving our young people a sense of work ethic, as well as an income to help them with back to school,” Bartlett told the Observer by phone from London, Monday.

The minister, who is currently on a working visit to Europe and North America, said the youths will be placed at hotels, resorts, ports and attractions in various capacities, as of July 21.

Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCO) is responsible for sensitising the youths on the operation of the tourism industry through a special training programme geared at getting them ready to work in the various tourism interests.

Bartlett said it hoped that some of these youths will eventually become interested in pursuing a career in tourism.

The programme is expected to be launched on July 24.
Meanwhile, Bartlett announced recently that the $100-million fund dedicated to supporting small properties and attractions will be made available through a collaboration between the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the Jamaica National Small Business (JNBS) loans unit, which will act as facilitators.

Branded as the Spruce Up Jamaica Entrepreneurial Fund, it is designed to facilitate upgrading of and marketing support for properties ranging from 10 – 100 rooms, as well as attractions.

The Spruce Up Jamaica Entrepreneurial Fund was launched last week. During his address at the launch, Bartlett expressed the need and urgency for these small properties and attractions to take full advantage of the opportunity to capitalise on the facility.

The partnership between the Tourism Enhancement Fund and Jamaica National Small Business Unit has been ongoing within the last year on several initiatives to develop the overall tourism product for its attractiveness to both locals and visitors to the island. The Tourism Enhancement Fund provides venture capital funding up to 20 per cent and 40 per cent share ownership.

Bartlett said the tourism product offerings will be further strengthened by another initiative of the Spruce Up Jamaica programme dubbed the tourism service excellence programme, which will embrace the service excellence of Jamaicans delivering “high-touch service”.

This programme is a segment of the wider Spruce Up Jamaica and Nice Up Yuhself campaign, an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism.