Having recently joined the Travel Foundation, one of the first projects I got involved with was working with Harbour Street Craft Market traders to enable them to make an income from tourism.
Last year 93 traders completed a training course to improve their business skills, team work and customer service techniques. The idea was to increase footfall to the market itself and, as a result, increase visitor spend.
The Travel Foundation have been working in partnership with TUI in Montego Bay to develop a tour bringing customers to the Harbour Street Craft Market. I was delighted to have the opportunity to sample it first-hand during its recent launch.
The tour shows tourists some of the sights of downtown Montego Bay, with ample opportunities for shopping and getting to know the local products on offer. Guests are taken from the Riu in Ironshore to the hip strip, then on to the Harbour Street Craft Market, and finally to the Hard Rock Café for an amazing sunset. Tourists were encouraged to bargain with the local retailers, and many came away with new purchases and smiles of satisfaction for that $2 discount.
When we took a slight detour through downtown Montego Bay, historical monuments and sites such as the Sam Sharpe Square and the Montego Bay Cultural Centre served as highlights through the hustle and bustle of peak hour traffic. This all culminated at Hard Rock Café in Freeport, where guests were invited to purchase signature dishes and cocktails, swim in the pool or the sea, and enjoy a breathtaking sunset.
Overall, the participants appeared to be very satisfied with the tour. A couple of visitors from Canada purchased something at every store and were constantly smiling. People were communicating with each other and the tour guide easily, and the expected response of “Yeah mon” was received with ease and even excitement at times. What do people love about Jamaica? The visitors on this tour said rum, the beach, red stripe and of course the music (especially Bob Marley!)
A great success for the traders at Harbour Street Craft Market, and hopefully a sign of things to come as tourists venture outside hotels and local people earn livelihoods from the industry.