Tourism practitioners and front line workers in key sectors are now better equipped to offer super charged and safe service after completing the Montserrat Service Ready training over a two-week period. The training culminated on Monday morning with the certification ceremony which will also be accompanied by a Montserrat Service Ready decal which successful business can display.
The training was an initiative of the Montserrat Tourism Division in an effort to prepare the hospitality sector for the official reopening of the island to vaccinated visitors from October 1, 2021.
Director of Tourism Warren Solomon said he is confident that Montserrat can continue to manage the spread of the COVID-19 virus even as it reopens.
Over the past several months, although there have been reported cases of the virus on island, they have been identified through the stringent five-day mandatory quarantine period for vaccinated arrivals and testing of unvaccinated travellers at the port of entry before being sent into a 14-day quarantine.
The facilitators were Louise John and Suzanne Shillingford-Brooks. The energetic and highly effective instructors delivered specialised and interactive modules designed for accommodation providers, restauranteurs, taxi drivers and attraction providers. The Montserrat Service Ready certification programme utilised the training developed by the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Associations Education Foundation – Caribbean Safe & Supercharged.
The safety protocols for the participants including mask wearing at all times, minimum three feet distance between participants and instructors, frequent hand washing and sanitizing.
The facilitators highlighted the fact that on island most store owners and frontline workers did not wear masks while they served members of the public who were mandated to wear mask. They said it would be important for practitioners to lead by example and use the protocols they wished for guests to follow upon arrival.
Solomon said Monday he was pleased that some participants were already implementing the learnings by updating and improving their signage in their places of business. One restaurant has introduced a guest book which would aid in contact tracing if the need arises.
The training extended beyond simple safety measures to include brainstorming and idea sharing of new product offerings and ways of doing business which would work in the local context. Further training will be provided to tour guides from October 25 to 30 on effectively delivering socially distanced and safe tours.
Premier Joseph Farrell said at the ceremony that the training comes at time when government is making the bold step to welcome vaccinated visitors. He added that tourism business owners have been waiting on this moment since borders were closed 18 months ago. He said that Montserrat has been very fortunate to have experienced limited community spread and it is imperative that the tourism sector is prepared to conduct business in a safe and healthy environment.
Success and longevity for the sector, he added, is dependent on sector workers to preserve the health and safety of guests, staff, family, and the wider community while delivering at a higher standard. The premier encouraged all management and staff to be fully vaccinated.
Farrell said that everyone is responsible for the shared experiences and stories that our guests take home. “Each of us is that important,” he declared.
Successful businesses and participants will be permitted to display the Montserrat Service Ready decal which will also be promoted on the tourism website and social media. Before leaving island, the facilitators conducted a training programme to enable continuity of the certification process. The local inspectors for are Judith Fergus, Norman Cassell ,Agatha Aspin and Rosetta West.