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KINGSTON, Jamaica; June 19, 2018: Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett says his Ministry will be working closely with the new Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, to ensure that imports to the tourism sector see a drastic reduction in the near future.
The announcement was made during a Tourism Linkages Council meeting at the office of the Tourism Enhancement Fund, on June 19, where Minister Shaw was invited as a special guest.
Minister Bartlett explained that the first thing his Ministry intends to do, is to host a series of town hall meetings, organized by the Tourism Linkages Network, to give local producers a better understanding of consumption patterns before making changes, which will ultimately have a positive impact on the economy.
“We have produced over time for seasonality and quotas and we have not become accustomed to 24/ consumption – that is what the tourism industry needs. We have to produce larger volumes and we have to be selective in the products we produce. We also have to bear in mind that the consumption patterns in tourism are the same as the consumption patterns of the locals,” he said.
In response to concerns raised by members of the Council about the buying patterns of international all-inclusive resorts, the Minister noted that he will also be meeting with relevant ambassadors to form an amicable solution.
“After these meetings, we want to bring everyone together in September and hopefully we will have the information and be guided by this empirical data – particularly on demand,” he said.
Minister Shaw on the other-hand noted that his Ministry intends to utilise a number of new initiatives to improve their productivity.
One such initiative is the utilization of the 'mother farm' concept, which will give large companies an avenue to enter into partnerships with small and medium farmers, by providing them with an avenue to sell their crops.
“We want to introduce mother farms on a more aggressive basis because they tend to help us where large people with knowhow, money etc, can help to provide that support of technology up-front, to do things properly and get the standards that wanted,” he said.
Minister Shaw went on to share that he felt it is important for the Ministries to strengthen collaboration, to create more opportunities for local farmers and producers, while enabling visitors to enjoy the Jamaican experience.
He also disclosed that he has written to the Prime Minister to turn the Agricultural Marketing Corporation (AMC) Complex, located on Spanish Town Road, into a modern processing facility. A move he believes will ultimately improve local consumption in the hotels.
“It will package fresh food that we make locally – what the hotels can absorb locally they will and what the supermarkets can absorb they will. It will then export it to markets including CARICOM and ultimately third party markets, such as the tourism industry,” said Minister Shaw.
Minister Bartlett further noted that the Tourism Linkages Network will continue its mandate to increase the consumption of goods and services that can be competitively sourced locally.
The Tourism Linkages Council which was established in June 2013 is comprised of key public and private sector partners who oversee the coordination and implementation of effective and sustainable strategies which strengthen and facilitate linkages.
Technical as well as other support for the Council is provided by the Technical Working Groups (TWGs) for Agriculture and Manufacturing which works closely with the Tourism Linkages Network to identify and address specific issues that may emerge from time to time to prevent minimize leakages and strengthen linkages.