Over 100 secondary students from various high schools across the parishes of Hanover and Westmoreland were sensitized on the many facets of tourism at the TPDCo Tourism Youth Expo and Career Fair. The Tourism Product Development Company Ltd. (TPDCo) administered event was held at the Negril Hills Golf Club in Westmoreland, as part of efforts to increase awareness of the tourism sector and its benefits for both visitors and locals.
The one day expo and career fair attracted exhibitors, speakers and presenters such as President of the Negril Chamber of Commerce, Richard Wallace who encouraged the students to explore the many possibilities that the sector has to offer, as the sector allows citizens to contribute to the development of the country, increases potential for wealth gain and a higher standard of living.
“Tourism offers many opportunities for Jamaicans to get involved, I urge you to visit the hotels and other tourism businesses and find out what they need, even finding that one item that you can supply to the many hotels we have, could start your entrepreneurship journey. This business you create one day could generate wealth and a legacy for your family and other locals.” He said
Executive Director of TPDCo, Dr. Andrew Spencer while delivering his executive lecture to the students underscored the importance of TPDCo programmes and its mandate to develop and maintain the tourism product.
“It is an exciting time for tourism, and with the many linkages such as manufacturing, entertainment and agriculture, we have managed to put all of those together to create a wholesome product. This is the reason you (students) should explore the limitless possibilities of tourism and find the area that suits you best. Tourism currently contributes an impressive 9% to the Gross Domestic Product, and has maintained a status as the leading sector in Jamaica. This is a sector that only gets better with time.”
He continued to say that tourism has increased and expanded its offerings, making it one of the most labour intensive sectors.
“I implore you (students) to get involved, as the sector is seeing rapid growth and will seek to fill 6000 jobs in the next two years, bringing the number of persons employed directly to the sector to 125,0000.” He said.
Other presentations were made by TPDCo representatives on harassment and its impact on the sector, tour guiding and employability in the sector. The students were also given the opportunity to gain more insight on tourism through the breakout sessions that were offered with major stakeholders and players in the tourism industry; some of which included award winning chef Anthony Miller, HEART Trust/NTA, the Negril Environmental Protection Trust, Jamaica Tourist Board, JamWest Motorsports and Adventure Park and the world’s leading online travel company Expedia.