Colourful coral reefs, beautiful waterfalls, lush rainforests and music everywhere… yet one in five tourists in Jamaica never leaves their hotel. That is a challenge for the islanders – tourism is one of the country’s most important industries, so if visitors aren’t doing much visiting, it’s harder for the locals to earn a living. One in every four Jamaican workers is employed in the tourist industry – restaurants, bars, taxi drivers, shops and attractions all depend on tourists for their income. Hence TUI Care Foundation is supporting an initiative to help businesses in Montego Bay increase the benefits they get from tourism by making visitors an offer they can’t refuse.
Get up stand up and explore Jamaica
Research showed that the main reason visitors gave for not leaving their hotel was that they felt they didn’t need to. So the challenge is to inspire them to get out and about by showing them that the island offers unmissable experiences. This forges connections between businesses and the tourist industry and helps local businesses to benefit more. TUI Care Foundation has started an initiative with the Travel Foundation to tackle this.
This means providing tourists with better information about Jamaica and its many attractions. So far, more than 8,000 Insider Guides and 5,000 maps have been distributed. As part of the project, businesses and attractions receive support to improve their visitor experience and maximise revenue – and international tour operators are working together to identify new opportunities for businesses too. Professionals like hotel receptionists and taxi drivers will be given training so they are more confident interacting with tourists and encouraging them to explore.
One of the attractions that’s been involved in the project is the Harbour Street Craft Market, one of the largest market in Montego Bay and home to some 250 traditional artisans and traders. As well as being able to buy everything from handmade baskets and jewellery to wood carvings and artwork, shoppers can see the artisans at work. However, visitor numbers had been declining, threatening the livelihoods of the workers; in turn, this was affecting the experiences of customers, who sometimes felt hassled to buy. Through the project, almost 100 traders so far have been given training in sales techniques and business skills. The aim is to double both revenue and footfall, so ways of attracting more visitors are being explored, and the market has been added to tour operators’ excursion programmes.
The Travel Foundation is an international charity working to maximise the positive impact of tourism.