Jamaica’s tourism sector is set to benefit from an injection of fresh innovative ideas for products and services through the introduction of the much-anticipated Tourism Innovation Incubator, which was launched by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) today (September 30).
Speaking at the launch event Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett revealed that “this initiative targets young enterprising minds, for whom there are tremendous opportunities for jobs, creative products, and innovative ideas in tourism and hospitality.”
He added that the programme was developed “to nurture new and start-up tourism enterprises that will provide innovative products and ideas to power the Blue Ocean Strategy in order to boost the competitiveness of our sector.”
In simplifying the term “Blue Ocean Strategy” Minister Bartlett explained that it is about “having comparative advantage in the marketplace” adding that “to sustain the industry in the face of increased competition, we must market and promote Jamaica as an unmatched travel option and the Caribbean destination of choice for tourists. This requires us to not only rebuild stronger, but also to focus on our competitive advantages in the tourism value chain.”
He noted too that “it is creating a competitive edge by offering our visitors an experience or product that they can have only in Jamaica, and therefore, we do not have to be concerned with competing with the same things as everyone else vying for the tourist dollar. Our focus will be on developing and promoting things that are authentically Jamaican; maximising cultural and historical authenticity to provide a tourism product that is Jamaican in every way possible.”
Mr. Bartlett added that “tourism is about ideas and creating experiences, experiences that people consume when they visit your destination. So, the more ideas that you have are the greater the opportunities for new experiences and the greater the opportunity for more consumption.”
He explained that the Innovation Incubator was created to change the perception of tourism as a casual worker’s paradise and to appreciate it as a dynamic economic activity of great significance globally.
As part of the initiative the TEF’s Research and Risk Management Department (RRMD) has collaborated with the University of Technology/Technology Innovation Centre and the Founder Institute to launch an Innovation Challenge as a pilot of the core Tourism Innovation Incubator process.
It was outlined that in this challenge, the Tourism Incubator will seek to find 25 innovative ideas then set the potential entrepreneurs who came up with these concepts on a commercial path through a challenge similar to the very popular Shark Tank on cable TV.
Minister Bartlett explained that the “selection of the ideas is being done by a committee of members from TEF and the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), and in addition to being tourism products or representing technology in tourism, each idea must be an innovation or invention that will add value and must be significant to the tourism industry.”
Of note the Lead Applicant must be a Jamaican Citizen residing in Jamaica for the last 3-5 years and must be 18 years or older by the submission deadline.
Upon making the final selection of candidates, the incubator will offer numerous services, including executing workshops with participants in the refining of their ideas; providing research support; training in pitch delivery; providing opportunities for mentorship and networking; teaching participants about key topics such as intellectual property and the importance of being formalized through informational sessions and sourcing potential partners or investors to help participants in prototype and product development.
Additional submission criteria for the Tourism Innovation Incubator can be found on TEF’s website at https://tef.gov.jm/tourism-incubator/