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TPDCo Promoting ‘Fi Wi Falmouth’

TPDCo Promoting ‘Fi Wi Falmouth’
Members of the Spot Valley High School Marching Band from St. James leading a procession around the town of Falmouth in Trelawny, during the Tourism Ministry’s ‘Falmouth Invasion’ sensitization exposition and concert in February.
(Media Credit: Glenis Rose)

KINGSTON (JIS) -- The Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) has been shining the spotlight on Falmouth through the ‘Fi Wi Falmouth’ initiative. This engagement aims to improve the hospitality offered to tourists in the town by enhancing the visitor experience and building awareness of tourism’s importance. The tourism public education programme, which was launched in August 2016, aims to engage primary and secondary school students so that they may learn and convey information to their peers and family members, as well as sensitize and build awareness among citizens’ associations, neighbourhood watches and youth groups within the parish. Community Awareness Coordinator at TPDCo, Marline Stephenson Dalley, tells JIS News that the initiative is a joint undertaking of the entity’s Community Awareness, and Visitor Safety and Experience Units, and is a component of the ‘Spruce Up Jamaica’ programme.

“We are doing this as a response to some of the visitor satisfaction surveys that have been done and the feedback that we have received. We want to infuse some of this tourism information that is so important to our youngsters, so that they have a better understanding of what tourism really is. We want them to become very proud of Falmouth and what it has to offer, as it is such a rich and historic town,” she highlights.

Mrs. Stephenson Dalley says the programme’s components include: quiz and art competitions; sensitization and training sessions among various groups; the establishment of tourism action clubs in high schools across the parish; production of an anti-harassment dramatization video; presentations on Falmouth, the parish and the tourism sector; and the production and distribution of printed materials.

“We intend to work with all these groups with a view to sensitizing them on the importance of tourism and getting them to have that sense of pride in their community and take ownership,” the Community Awareness Coordinator says.

Elaborating on the various components, Mrs. Stephenson Dalley explains that the quiz competition will engage 16 primary schools across the parish with the focus areas including: the history of Trelawny; Jamaican attractions and places of interest with emphasis on the parish; tourism awareness; tourism organizations; Civics; Spanish; Geography, environmental and cultural awareness; and Jamaican Heritage.

“Spanish is important because when we look at the diversity of visitors that come to our shores, we know that another language is important to be able to communicate. Any child on the street should know the basics of greeting somebody or to give directions. So we have provided them (students) with that resource material which will help them in very simple conversation, if that becomes necessary,” she points out.

An art competition, titled: ‘Where Does the Tourist Dollar Go’, engaged secondary students in interpreting the theme through their pieces and reproducing whatever it was that they thought was pertinent in art.

Some 50 micro and small business operators are being targeted for training in the areas of customer service, cultural sensitivity, self-development, business basics and the history of Falmouth.

An anti-harassment video, dubbed ‘Cum Yah’, is being produced to further discuss the issue of harassment, its causes, effects and possible solutions, as also to get buy-in to the required attitude and behaviour changes.

The video will be used at the sensitization sessions and distributed to schools, youth groups and other associations in the parish.

An exciting component for youngsters, age seven to 12, is the production and distribution of the educational comic strip, ‘The Adventures of Sprucey & Limey’, which emphasizes the importance of protecting tourists, whether domestic or foreign, and reducing or eliminating harassment.

“We just want to ensure that the message is clear, that we need to take responsibility and be welcoming to our visitors. When you come in to Falmouth on a ship day, for example, and you see two of the world’s largest vessels in port and you think of the potential earning that there is…if 50 per cent of those visitors disembark, you are looking at possibly 6,000 people coming into the town to see what Falmouth has to offer….the food, the history that is alive in many of the buildings and places and the people. So we are hoping that we will have positive impact at the end of the day as we continue to spruce up Falmouth and, by extension, Jamaica,” the Community Awareness Coordinator points out.

Mrs. Stephenson Dalley adds that the programme’s overall objective is to make students, citizens and all the groups in Falmouth and its environs more culturally aware and responsible.

“We hope, too, that persons will be positively impacted by the messages and that the behaviours will change in many instances. Persons who have been trained, we hope they will be better customer service providers, become more culturally sensitive and will thrive in their businesses by the practices that they will now be able to employ just from participating in the sessions,” she states.

Additionally she says: “we want to see some amount of change taking place and those who have benefited from the information will be inclined to share that information. So each one will teach one and, overall, we can build a more aware society and protect this industry called tourism which is so important to all of us.”

The ‘Fi Wi Falmouth’ initiative is a pilot programme intended to be a springboard towards an overall engagement for implementation in other resort areas.

Consideration is also being given to transforming the quiz competition into a national one.

“So this is the pilot in Trelawny and we are putting things in place for a more fulsome competition, not only in the traditional resort areas, but all across Jamaica…(and) we hope to have participation from the youngsters,” Mrs Stephenson Dalley informs.

Other partners include: the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), which has provided $4 million in funding support; the Social Development Commission (SDC) through the Community Development Council; the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) through the Neighbourhood Watch programme; the Resort Board; the Trelawny Library Service network of libraries; and private sector stakeholders across the parish.