Wed | Apr 8, 2020

Artificial intelligence can’t beat personal touch – Bartlett

Published:Friday | November 22, 2019 | 12:31 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

While acknowledging that artificial intelligence (AI) is an emerging industry, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has reaffirmed that it cannot replace the personal touch of the people, ­especially in a service sector like tourism.

While AI was forecast to cut jobs globally, Bartlett asserted that the hospitality sector was built on strong relationships with the visitors.

“Tourism is about people meeting people, interacting with people, and enjoying the presence of people and being happy in the presence of people,” said Bartlett, who was addressing the Hanover-based Round Hill Hotel and Villas 2019 long-service awards ceremony on Tuesday.

“There is talk about artificial intelligence and about what robotics can do, and about how the new tourism is going to be all about automation with smart rooms, smart kitchens, and smart every little thing, and ­nowadays they have like Siri and [Alexa], and they say that these people are going to take over tourism. Do you believe them? Absolutely not!” ­continued Bartlett.

The minister said he would always recognise the contribution that workers have made to the tourism industry in Jamaica, which has made it the number one sector in the country.

“This year, tourism has led in terms of contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) growth every quarter for the year so far. You are now the backbone of the economy of Jamaica. You are the strongest contributor to the GDP growth in Jamaica today; you are 5.3 per cent when the country is growing at 1.2 per cent. Big up tourism, and big up the workers,” he said.

Bartlett, who recently copped the Pioneer Award at the RJRGLEANER Hospitality Jamaica Awards, praised the workers who were instrumental in helping Round Hill to walk away with the Best Boutique Hotel award at the same ceremony.

Some 78 workers of the Round Hill Hotel and Villas were awarded at the ceremony for their service to the hotel, which ranged from 10 to 45 years.

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