This is the word from Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, as he addresed the 2016 Tourism Service Excellence Programme (TSEP) awards presentation ceremony on Saturday at the Hyatt Ziva Resort in St. James.
The tourism minister said a series of sensitization sessions are being held across the island to ensure that the stakeholders are fully on board with the plan, which will benefit all categories of tourism workers.
“We began the series with the owners and operators of tourism entities across Jamaica on March 3. We will begin the sensitization programme with the workers. After that we go to Parliament and in September 2017 we roll out the pension plan for the workers of our industry,” the Minister said.
He added that efforts are being made to ensure that all tourism stakeholders are on board and that the necessary legislation in put in place for a smooth implementation.
Meanwhile, the Minister said dialogue is currently taking place with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security on how to create the necessary reforms to ensure that there is a labour market which is friendly to tourism workers and which offers the best opportunity for the highest level of productivity.
“In that context we are looking for tourism to become a vocation rather than a transition activity. You don’t come to tourism on your way to somewhere else, you come to tourism for a vocation with an income arrangement and a mobility that enables you to develop a career path, so you can be assured of sustainable employment in a sustainable industry,” Mr. Bartlett said.
The concept of a pension plan for Jamaica's tourism workers was first mooted in Parliament by former Tourism Minister Dr. Wykeham McNeil in his budget presentation on July 2, 2013. He told parliament in his sectoral presentation that "84% of workers in the accommodations subsector have no pension arrangements. To put it another way Mr. Speaker, of the approximately 36,000 workers in the accommodation subsector, approximately 30,240 will retire without a pension plan."
He said a draft of the plan had been completed and reviewed by a committee comprising representatives from the JHTA, the Insurance Association of Jamaica and the Policy team from the Ministry.
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