TPDCo trains 300 artisans yearly

TPDCo trains 300 artisans yearly

Observer staff reporter

Friday, December 14, 2018

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MORE than 300 artisans are trained by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) each year, the company's Executive Director Dr Andrew Spencer has disclosed.

Spencer, while speaking to reporters and editors this week at a Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange, said the move is in an effort to improve artisans' skills and techniques, so they can deliver quality products and capitalise on the economic benefits to be garnered from tourism.

While admitting that the sale of imported craft items “is a spot of bother” for everyone, the executive director said the plan is to have five themed artisan villages across the island where artisans can sell their craft and attract higher prices.

A time frame was not given for the opening of the artisan villages.

“We recognised that a lot of these things (techniques) need to be passed on from generation to generation. We are losing a lot of it, and those which we didn't have, [we have gone] as far as to bring in help. We had some Nigerians here helping to teach batik and screen printing at a particular level… We [offer training in] stone painting, embroidery, basketry, crochet,” Dr Spencer said.

The TPDCo head also said that when the training programme began, craft makers raised concerns about acquiring skills and not having a facility to showcase the end products and earn from them.

Their concerns quickly subsided when nine business clusters were created, he said.

“They are now able; they are the ones with the testimonials now saying, 'Look, what you have taught me put bread on my table'. So once we have started getting to that stage, I think we are well on our way,” Spencer said.

TPDCo's Director of Product Development and Community Tourism Julian Patrick added: “Community tourism, as well as it rolls out within the communities, part of what we do is train persons within communities to make unique items. Whilst the broader strategy will be rolling out on the ground, community tourism efforts, training and so forth, will also be running…”

Meanwhile, Spencer said TPDCo will be hosting a number of craft fairs, showcasing high-quality products starting today.

The first in the series will kick off at Whitter Village in Montego Bay, St James, under the theme “876 Craft”. The second show is expected to get under way at Seville Heritage Park in St Ann on December 19, and it will be dubbed “Yaad Brands to the Worl”. The third show in the series will be at “Breezy Way” beside TPDCo's office on Knutsford Boulevard in Kingston on the 20th, and will be held under the theme: “Fi wi handy wuk dis”.

Last year, TPDCo signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Travel Foundation, which is based in the United Kingdom.

The agreement establishes a framework of cooperation and collaboration, with both organisations working more closely to build the capacity of targeted groups.

The objective is to increase local economic benefits from tourism by supporting craft markets and attractions in order to improve their practices so as to attract more visitors.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said at the signing that the major objective of the MoU is to equip the operators to deliver to the visitors “the experiences that must define destination Jamaica”.

“It seeks to improve the capacity of our people to produce more, provide more, to be more creative and innovative, so that we can be more distinctive in terms of the quality of our offerings,” he added.

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