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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica, Friday, November 11, 2016: The Ministry of Tourism’s Linkages Network has stepped up an initiative to plug the leakage of billions of dollars in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors resulting from imports by local tourism entities.
A Tourism Demand Study, commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism in 2015, determined that “the annual leakage due to imports amounts to $65.5 billion in the manufacturing sector and between $1.6 billion and $5 billion in the agricultural sector.”
The study concluded that “the prospect for import substitution is great as there exists a high level of receptivity among tourism sector stakeholders to local goods and services.” It further posits that “this receptivity could be converted to business opportunity as the projected demand for agricultural and manufactured goods indicate that there is tremendous opportunity for trade that could be as high as $56.7 billion annually for processed foods alone, $5.3 billion for fruits, and $1.6 billion for vegetables.”
The demand study also identified constraints hampering the strengthening of tourism linkages with the domestic economy, including the ability of the agricultural sector to supply large and consistent quantities of quality products.
Inadequate support for the promotion of locally manufactured goods to foreign investors in the tourism sector was identified as one of the main obstacles for the manufacturing sector. The need was also seen for improved communication between buyers and sellers in relation to product availability and prices.
In a concerted effort to overcome these obstacles, the Linkages Network brought stakeholders in manufacturing and agriculture face to face with purchasing managers in the tourism sector. They met at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Wednesday, November 9, 2016.
Jordan Samuda, who sits on an agricultural working group of the Tourism Linkages Council, which supports the work of the Linkages Network, chaired the round-table meeting. He said bridging the gap and lessening the leakage was a major focus. “What we’re trying to achieve here with the purchasing managers is getting down to the folks who are on the ground day to day, seeing the challenges that face them with supplies,” he said.
Project Manager, Tourism Linkages Network, Carolyn McDonald-Riley, noted that a directory of all manufacturers in the country was being developed with a database that would make it easier for purchasers in the hotel sector to identify and access suppliers of the products they need. It is expected that the directory will be completed by December of this year.
Mrs. McDonald-Riley reminded the gathering that the Tourism Linkages Network was established in 2013 to ensure that tourism entities absorbed as much as possible locally manufactured goods and services. “If that happens then the economy will grow, we will create more jobs and earn much needed foreign exchange,” she said.