The Ministry of Tourism is reaching out to taxi drivers island-wide on the mode of requirements to become certified in the hospitality industry.
Taxi operators are being educated about the new Tourism Development Bill requiring certification for all tourism –related operations. The Tourism Development Bill has as its core component certification for all tourism operators.
Senior Tourism Officer, Deepa Girdari explained the rationale for such certification.
“All tourism stakeholders from our various sub sectors will be required to become tourism certified to be able to operate,” said the tourism officer.
“Prior to that, we did the Covid-Certification to operate. Now that Covid has come and gone …we need to continue, we need to ensure that services that are provided, do meet international standards. That our service providers are out there ensuring that they are competitive individually and overall as a destination,” Girdari added. “And ensuring that …the necessaries are being done to maintain the level of service that they are giving and one that is recognizable and acceptable in the international arena.”
The bill allows tourism providers to access various government incentives, funding and marketing support. The ministry has met with three taxi associations, thus far, and says the response has been favourable.
“Anytime something new is coming on stream there is always the tendency to resist, however, as we go through the session and we explain and we show them how this legislation can help them improve their business and help them enhance, and grow what they have to offer and help them move from …one vehicle, one vessel and expand and become a bigger business,” she said.
Girdari asserted: “They start to embrace it and they are for it.”
The first session was held with members of the Holiday Taxi Co. on April, 3; while the other sessions are set to conclude on April, 20.
Meanwhile, in November 2021, Cabinet endorsed a request by the Ministry of Tourism for a revision of the Tourism Incentives Act. In order to fulfill this mandate, the Ministry conducted a series of consultations involving stakeholders from all subsectors in the tourism industry to inform the draft Tourism Development Bill.
Based on the recommendations of the stakeholder consultations, the draft Tourism Development Bill was prepared.
Subsequently, the Ministry of Tourism requested public comment on the draft bill. Cashama Barnette, Senior Tourism Investment Officer within the Ministry of Tourism elaborates.
“The general intent of the Tourism Development Bill is to encourage more participation and ownership in the tourism industry while maintaining industry standards and providing superior customer service to those visiting the island,” she said.
Barnette added: “The Ministry of Tourism would also like to create the infrastructure to provide civic and targeted resources for industry resilience—in other words provide assistance to service providers for recovery from natural and man-made disasters.
“The proposed bill also seeks to encourage use of local suppliers and supporting services as a means of making linkages and spreading the benefits of the Tourism Industry.”
The Bill recognizes the prominence of tourism in the social and economic fabric of the country and, as such, seeks:
– To facilitate the dynamic and diversified nature of tourism industry, the development of all tourism sub-sectors, and the growth and expansion of tourism niche products and services;
– To support inclusive development, i.e., by effectively engaging, involving and making special provisions for local tourism investors and by the provision of appropriate and equitable incentives;
– To facilitate the ease of doing business in the tourism industry through the provision of an efficient incentive application and approval process;
– To promote quality standards for tourism products and services, including consistent and high levels of customer service, while protecting health and safety;
– To encourage climate resilient tourism business development and support environmental conservation and management (of cultural, heritage/historic, ecological, natural resources etc.) practices in the tourism business sector;
– To provide specific support for industry resilience i.e., help with rapid recovery post-disaster or post crisis by including special allowances including (a) tax breaks from payment on all international advertising and marketing; post-disaster, and (c) recovery tax breaks;
– To boost the use of technology and the digitalization of the industry in support of industry competitiveness;
– To encourage the use of local suppliers and supporting services as a means for linkages and spreading of tourism benefits;
– To facilitate the provision of up-to-date information and statistical data by the tourism industry to allow for more effective decision making, policy and strategy development for advancement of the tourism industry.