‘Falmouth Pride’ hits the road

BY HORACE HINES Staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.comq

Saturday, August 20, 2016

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FALMOUTH, Trelawny — A pilot project to, among other things, highlight the importance of reducing the troubling tourist harassment issue in the town of Falmouth and Trelawny by extension, was last week laun
ched here by the Tourism Product Development Company Limited (TPDCo).

The initiative, dubbed ‘Falmouth Pride’ with the slogan " Fi Wi Falmouth, Fi Wi Pride" also seeks to increase awareness of the importance of the tourism sector in the town, where residents continuously complain of not benefitting from the cruise ship port.

"The challenge of harassment is not peculiar to this parish and so we anticipate that, based on the success of the programme, it will be replicated," Joy Roberts, acting executive director of TPDCo was, however, quick to note.

According to retired Deputy Commissioner of Police Charles Scarlett, now director of the Visitor Safety and Experience Unit — established two years ago by TPDCo to tackle the increasing challenges of visitor safety in resort towns — most of the complaints received by his unit are against providers of ground transportation at the ports.

He said that oftentimes the complaints are over the disparity of prices initially charged against that which is demanded upon arrival at the attractions by drivers.

"Most of the complaints we get are against the transport providers — Juta, JACAL, Maxi and the unlicensed taxi operators," Scarlett disclosed.

He added: "Persons are often offered drugs, unwanted sexual approaches are made. And so, the objective is to encourage persons who provide services within the industry, those persons who are licensed in accordance with the provisions of the Jamaica Tourist Board Regulations of 1985."

Scarlett further argued that had it not been for the fear of harassment, much more cruise passengers would disembark from the vessels upon arrival at the port, not only of Falmouth, but Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.

"People intercept them (cruise passengers) every step of the way, offering them services and it creates this negative feedback, and it is impacting negatively on the industry. So we find fewer persons who arrive in the port come off the ships and the result is that we are losing business," Scarlett told reporters following last week’s ‘Falmouth Pride’ launch at the Falmouth Police Station.

"So if we can get the transport operators, the hair braiders and those who provide services, to recognise that if you bring some order and civility to the arrangement, the pie will get bigger and more people will get a share of the pie."

Meanwhile, under the Falmouth Pride campaign, TPDCo is aiming to engage students at the primary and secondary levels so that they may learn and convey tourism information to their peers and family members and sensitise and build awareness among citizens’ associations, neighbourhood watches and youth groups.

"We are here to begin what we know will be a process of changing the conversations through the engagement of our children, the young people and the citizens of the parish of Trelawny," Roberts remarked.

Fifty micro business operators will also be targeted for training in the areas of customer service, cultural sensitivity, self-development, business basics and the history of Falmouth.

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