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Jamaica - Thrust underway to streamline craft sector - Crawford

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Kingston, Jamaica: July 4, 2013 – The Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment is pursuing a number of strategies to streamline and develop the island’s lucrative craft sector. Minister of State, Damion Crawford, outlined key initiatives being undertaken, during his Sectoral Presentation to Parliament recently. 

Describing the craft sector as being “critical in distinguishing and stamping the character of a destination,” Minister Crawford said if each visitor spent just $U.S. 14 on Jamaican craft, the sector could yield an estimated $4.4 billion.

However, it is recognised that there are challenges and these were brought to the forefront during at least six consultations with stakeholders in the past 18 months. The key challenges highlighted by Minister Crawford include:  inadequate levels of innovation and product diversity, low craft quality and limited craft diversity, lack of appropriate design, unfair competition for craft markets from hotel gift shops and duty free shops, the “hustler” mentality, cheaper imported craft, diminished pool of craft skills, and a fragmented approach to the development of craft in Jamaica.

He said the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment plans to institute a craft authority to serve as a centralized craft board responsible for the management, maintenance and promotion of craft markets, as one of the solutions to addressing some of the challenges.  

The craft authority will serve as the first line of interaction, implementation and enforcement for craft activities, with only appeals going to the Ministry and/or its affiliates. The craft authority will seek to address: quality, variety, value, sales, customer satisfaction and profits through greater local identity, innovation, better packaging, regulation, as well as production and distribution facilities.

In order to achieve these goals, the Ministry is spearheading the development of an art, craft and souvenir policy to streamline the industry. When completed, the policy will address licensing and registration of both the craft producer and the craft trader, as well as the development of small home-based craft businesses. The Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) will function as a resource centre for research on markets, raw materials, prices, technology, design and other areas for the enhancement of craft. 

Minister Crawford also disclosed that the Ministry was collaborating with the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), the Edna Manley College, Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) and the Bureau of Standards to create a brand called ‘Authentic Jamaican’ that will only be sold in craft markets. In tandem with this, an Authentic Jamaican Design Competition is currently being undertaken with the objective being to increase the quantity, diversity, quality and standard of craft and souvenir items that can be sold in craft markets as ‘Authentic Jamaican’ products. 

The Ministries of Tourism and Entertainment; Industry, Investment & Commerce, Education and Youth and Culture will also collaborate with the Edna Manley College, Heart Trust NTA and the Social Development Commission (SDC) to develop skills and promote careers in craft.