Bartlett embraces technological thrust in local tourism marketing
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett (right) with Digicel's Darragh Fitzgerald Selby, chairman of the Knowledge Network, at the Smart Destination 2018 workshop in Montego Bay, St James on Friday. (PHOTO: Ramon Lindsay)
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has cited a refreshing and technologically-driven thrust being taken within the local tourism marketplace to generate even more growth than has been realised over recent years.
Appearing as the keynote speaker at a tourism industry workshop at the Montego Bay Conference Centre in St James, the minister took note of the Smart Destination 2018 initiative which is designed to show how technology is revolutionising the tourism sector.
Speaking about the "sea change" that is taking place within the tourism industry, Bartlett said there has been a "destinations metamorphosis", which he dubbed "the fourth revolution".
He told the packed conference hall that, "We're getting to a place where we want to be, where we are driven by experiential tourism and not traditional destination tourism."
He said Jamaica and the Caribbean are experiencing a "huge influx of cognitive systems that are revolutionising the way things are done".
Bartlett explained that the 'smart solutions' being employed are "adding value to the way things have always been done", representing, in a nutshell, "innovation".
In labelling the Caribbean as the most tourism-dependent region in the world, the minister said the new smart applications would enhance the quality of tourist experience generally, and enhance the authenticity and uniqueness of destination Jamaica.
But it's not all about tourists, he stressed, indicating that the new technologies would also allow ordinary Jamaicans significant access to benefits from the tourism industry.
Hosted by the Tourism Linkages Council, the workshop was specifically designed to target the small to medium-sized tourism enterprise (SMTE). It brought together national and international experts within the sector to share knowledge.
The large turnout focused on how to bring the Caribbean's world-famous sun, sea and sand destination further into the technological age.
This involves, for example, smart applications to set Jamaica apart and make people want to travel to the island.
The thrust also involves the effective dissemination of key information on what visitors should expect before they even set foot on local soil.
The concept is about using analytics and data to be far more predictive, and to fuel "laser-like targeting" in visitor marketing.
Aside from the anticipated huge boost to the national economy, the concept also involves better use of the tourism dollar.
Among the major participants at the workshop was Digicel's Darragh Fitzgerald Selby, chairman of the Knowledge Network. Of his involvement, he said: "My role as chairman of the Knowledge Network is to seek to amalgamate tourism assets, skills, knowledge and experience of local and international experts to facilitate the free exchange of tourism-related information.
"Our purpose is to position Jamaica as the knowledge centre of tourism for the region”.
Also speaking were Digicel Business' Head of Enterprise Solutions, Ative Ennis, and Lenworth Tracey, General Manager of Trade and Commercial Lending at the EXIM Bank.
Among the opening day’s activities, delegates attended a selection of workshops during which Smart Destination 2018 partners helped the delegates to understand which of the challenges being faced by the SMTE sector could be solved through the use of advanced technology.
The participants were also briefed about creative ways to finance their ICT investments.
The key partners for Smart Destination 2018 were the Ministry of Tourism, Digicel, the Tourism Linkages Network, the Tourism Enhancement Fund, Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), the Exim Bank, Aruba, Avaya and Loop Jamaica's parent company, Trend Media.