#MontegoBay, August 20, 2018 – Jamaica – Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has lauded the first cohort of hospitality workers who participated in a Spanish language training course at RIU Palace, Montego Bay, on Thursday (August 16). The workers, who are from the RIU hotel chain, participated in the special three-hour introduction to Spanish training, conducted by training experts from the Cervantes Institute in Spain.
Mr. Bartlett hailed the workers as “pioneers” for the programme, which he said will be rolled out across the hospitality industry soon.
“We want you to feel very proud that you are pioneers and starting a trend and a programme that is going to go across the entire industry,” the Minister said.
Mr. Bartlett explained that it is important for hospitality workers to hone their skills at “communicating with our neighbours,” since Jamaica is geographically located adjacent to Latin American countries, one of the country’s tourism markets.
“We are the only English-speaking Caribbean country in the greater Caribbean area. We are around Cuba, we are around the Dominican Republic, and we are around Mexico in terms of the Yucatan areas that border the Caribbean Sea, and of course next to us is Haiti that speaks Creole and French,” he said.
In this regard, the Minister said it is imperative for Jamaicans to be able to speak a second language, in particular Spanish, as most of the country’s tourism partners originate from Spanish-speaking countries.
“To build the capacity of our people to grow and expand beyond their professional activities in Jamaica calls for us to know languages but more so Spanish, in our experience, because most of the tourism partners that we have, the brands that we have in Jamaica all have establishments in the Spanish-speaking countries around us,” he noted.
In the meantime, the Minister said the Ministry is taking steps to forge similar partnerships with the embassies of France, China and Germany, to offer language training to hospitality workers.
For his part, Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Josep Maria Bosch Bessa, commended the Tourism Ministry for undertaking the Spanish-training initiative, and congratulated the RIU Hotel chain as well as the Cervantes Institute for collaborating on the venture.