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KINGTON, Jamaica; December 14, 2017: Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett says his Ministry is committed to playing a key role in the transformation of the agricultural sector to better meet the needs of the hospitality sector. This will be bolstered by a series of initiatives scheduled to be launched by the Tourism Linkages Network in 2018.
“We will be introducing an Entrepreneurial Training and Coaching Programme to help farmers to better understand the tourism industry, allowing them to tailor their production, distribution and logistics to match the requirements of businesses in the sector. This is very important because a lot of the farmers don’t understand how to trade with tourism partners,” said the Minister.
He went on to share that he would be visiting leading tourism stakeholders in Europe in the first quarter of 2018, with Minister of Industry, Commerce Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Karl Samuda and a team of high-level tourism officials.
While there, he hopes to discuss critical issues of linkages and the best methods that can be employed to enable local farmers and manufacturers to become more integrated in the production and consumption patterns within tourism.
“I am also going to be having conversations with investors in the sector with regards to this critical imperative of changing the production and consumption patterns of tourism – in favour of more locally sourced goods and services,” he said.
Minister Bartlett made the announcement at the launch of the Tourism Agri-Linkages Exchange (ALEX) platform, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on December 13, 2017.
ALEX, which is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Tourism and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), is an online platform which will bring hoteliers in direct contact with the farmers and, in turn, reduce leakages and retain more of the economic benefits of tourism in Jamaica.
“We are excited about making ALEX the first step in this new technological advance that is going to bring our suppliers and our buyers together so that we can enhance the capacity of Jamaica to produce the things that the visitor wants. It now gives our farmers, an opportunity to talk to your market and for your market to talk back to you. It is going to reduce, in the end, the need for middle men,” explained the Minister.
The Minister also used the opportunity to announce that his Ministry will also be facilitating the development of berry farming in Jamaica to support the needs of the hoteliers for fresh high quality berries to meet the needs of their guests.
In addition, he shared that an updated Tourism Demand Study, which will provide the empirical data to allow for the effective planning and identification of goods and services in the tourism sector, will be ready in March 2018.