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Shining a light on locally-produced crafts in Jamaica

Buying a locally-made souvenir is a great way to celebrate your holiday, whilst also supporting local craft-makers and vendors to make a living.  Yet, often what is on sale in even the best craft markets around the world are mass-produced gifts imported from overseas.  In Montego Bay, Jamaica, we’re working to change that with support from the TUI Care Foundation.

Over 250 people make a living from their stalls at the Harbour Street craft market, but the number of visitors and income from sales have been steadily falling for some time.  Over the past year, we’ve been working with craft market vendors to reverse that trend. Training on sales techniques has already helped traders to improve the visitor experience and a new TUI tour is now bringing customers to the market.  We are also supporting vendors to improve the quality of the products on sale in the market, to attract tourists looking for that treasured and authentic souvenir of their stay.

Recently, the traders gained new insight into the wealth of high quality, locally-produced crafts in the area, with a trip to the annual Montego Bay Expo. With support from the organisers, Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, we arranged a special craft expo within the main event.  This enabled vendors from the Harbor Street market, and around a thousand other event visitors, to meet craft-makers from the local area and see their products first hand – from eco-friendly jewellery, to hand-crafted wooden gifts.

Over the three day event, we took around 70 traders to visit the expo, inspiring them to think differently about what they could offer to tourists.  It was an excellent networking opportunity for the craft producers, some of whom have made sales as a result.  One craft-producer wrote in thanks ‘I am so grateful to have this opportunity.  This is a great encounter with some talented individuals.  May you continue to impact lives with your work’.