Talking Points By Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett at the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial & Food Show 2016 Denbigh Showground, May Pen, Clarendon Sunday, July 31, 2016
Submitted by admin on Sun, 12/04/2016 - 14:44
His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, Governor General of Jamaica
Hon. William Shagoury, Custos Rotulorum, Clarendon
Member of the Canadian Senate, Hon. Don Meredith
His Worship The Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Glendon Harris, 2nd Vice President, Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS)
Norman Grant, President, Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS)
Mr. George Smith, President of the Cayman Islands Agricultural Society
Members of the media
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
Good Morning ...
I am delighted to have been invited to participate in the 64th staging of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show. Tourism and agriculture are intimately linked and as I looked around at the magnificent displays of local produce and the finest livestock I have no doubt that our farmers have the ability and the potential to supply our tourism sector.
There is an old saying that once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher, but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer.
It is within this context that today I want to speak to the farmers and agro-processors about the vast opportunities that exist for them within Jamaica’s growing tourism and hospitality sector.
Tourism in Jamaica is doing well. Last year we recorded 3.6 million stopover and cruise visitors combined and earned some US$2.5 billion in revenues and we are repositioning tourism to generate even higher growth rates.
Secure 5 million visitors by 2021
US$ 5 billion in tourism earnings
Increase the total direct jobs to 125,000
15,000 new rooms.
When you consider this wise adage against the background of our significant arrival figures then you, the nation’s farmers, will have a much clearer understanding of how you stand to benefit from our growing tourism sector.
Someone has to feed these millions of visitors. Someone has to supply the hotels with high quality meat, fruit and vegetables. Why not you?
We want more Jamaicans across the island to benefit from tourism’s success. This is why for instance we want more Jamaican farmers to supply the hotels and attractions with agricultural produce.
It is also why our Tourism Linkages Network has been working tirelessly to strengthen linkages between the tourism and non-tourism sectors as well as increase the industry’s consumption of locally produced goods and services.
With specific regard to agriculture, the Tourism Linkages Network has been working closely with theMinistry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Jamaica Agricultural Societyand the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to create and expand economic opportunities for farmers in the tourism sector and provide bigger markets fortheir products.
One such initiative is the hosting of our Agro-Tourism Farmers’ Markets in Negril and Montego Bay, which have resulted in contracts between farmers and the hotel sector valued so far at some J$35 million.
Through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), my Ministry has provided $79.4 million over the last three years to support various initiatives to enhance our agricultural sector, including our Agro-Tourism Farmers’ Markets, rehabilitating markets in our resort areas and to facilitate agricultural programmes in our schools.
Our recently commissioned Tourism Demand Study has provided some useful data which we are using for effective planning and to identify the demand for goods and services in the tourism sector. Let me briefly share some of the findings with you.
One positive finding is that demand for goods and services in the tourism sector is mainly satisfied by local suppliers; however, importation still constitutes a reasonable proportion of expenditure on some specific products.
For agricultural produce, the highest demand was for fruits, where hotels purchased over 500,000 pounds per month. The demand for poultry, meat and seafood resulted in the highest monthly expenditure of almost J$138 million.
The study also shed some light on the problem of leakages. The annual leakage due to imports amounts to J$65.4 billion in the manufacturing sector and between J$1.6 billion and J$5.0 billion in the agricultural sector.
So what does this tell us? That there are tremendous opportunities for increased linkages with local producers of goods and services within the tourism sector.
Based on expenditure on imported goods, the findings also show that there are excellent opportunities for the provision of a variety of produce, including cantaloupe, iceberg lettuce, Irish potatoes, red jumbo onions, rice and sweet corn.
I know that many of you are of the view that the local hotel sector is not amenable to doing business with local farmers but I would like to dispel this myth.
Due to the work of the Tourism Linkages Network, quite a few of our hotels now source their agricultural produce from local suppliers. For instance on an annualized basis Sandals Resorts spends approximately J$1.8 billion on fruits and vegetables, poultry, eggs, pork, coffee, lobster and fish.
The all-inclusive RIU Resorts and Hotels, now have long term contracts with local suppliers valued at some $225 million annually. Hyatta Ziva and Zilara are about to sign a similar contract.
Unfortunately, there are some well know constraints affecting linkages between tourism and agriculture. For hotels, particularly the large ones, the main barrier to purchasing greater quantities of local produce is the lack of capacity of farmers to supply the required quantities and quality of produce in a timely and consistent manner at competitive prices.
My Ministry will be working closely with various ministries and agencies and with local farmers to address these constraints and limitations while exploring strategies to increase their capacity to supply tourism businesses.
When you consider that over one third of tourist spending worldwide is devoted to food (UNWTO Global Report on Food Tourism) then it is in everyone’s interest to reduce imports and encourage the use of locally grown produce.
Grace is expanding its agro-processing plant to produce items like ketchup and sauces. This is a fine example of an entity that is moving to take advantage of the growing demand for local products in sectors like tourism and I encourage other local players to do the same.
I urged you, our farmers, to put plans in place to strategically benefit from the increased demand for local produce expected as the tourism sector continues to experience sustained growth.