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Kingston, Jamaica: July 27, 2015: Corporate holiday gift shopping began very early this year when hundreds flocked the Jamaica Pegasus for the highly anticipated ‘Christmas in July’ exhibition. The event, which was hosted on the weekend by the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment’s Tourism Linkages Hub, saw some 80 local producers of authentic craft, gifts and souvenirs displaying a wide selection of items to buyers from corporate Jamaica, the hospitality sector, government entities, embassies, missions and international organizations.
The idea for the event was sparked after the Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill received a Christmas gift made by an international supplier last year. It was then that he suggested that there were numerous business opportunities to be had if everybody received a gift which was made in Jamaica.
Christmas in July is a collaborative effort of the Tourism Linkages Hub and its partners, the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA), Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), and Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA). The event, which highlights local manufacturers, was also geared at boosting the economy and strengthening the bonds between tourism and other key sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and the creative industries.
Minister McNeill said “the success we are enjoying in the sector is the result of the close collaboration among tourism and tourism related sectors. I am confident that the sector will continue to thrive if we continue these high levels of collaboration among owners, managers and the all important workers on the front line in the sector.”
Ministry of Industry Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton shared similar views noting that “micro small and medium sized enterprises are excited to make a contribution to the economy and today is no disappointment.” He went on to laud the event as “an opportunity for our local businesses to support our local businesses and economy.”
Chairman of the Tourism Linkages Council, Donavon Perkins said “this is truly a groundbreaking initiative which provides well needed exposure to producers of a wide array of products and allows them to meet with potential buyers to explore business opportunities and hopefully seal numerous deals.”
The items on display were hand-selected for quality and were assessed by representatives of stakeholder organizations such as the JBDC, JMA, JAMPRO and the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) as well as corporate partners in areas such as design and pricing; aesthetics; functionality; quality of packaging and labeling. The event was sponsored by the Tourism Enhancement Fund.
With holiday jingles gently buzzing in the background, patrons browsed the exhibits which featured a wide variety of locally-made items such as: desktop solutions, spa products, fine art, furniture, shoes, clothes, processed foods and wines. Most were pleased with the high quality of items on display.
In fact, Fort George Botanicals proprietor Suzan Brooks shared that she was very impressed with the local products. “It touched my heart just to see what Jamaicans can do,” she warmly expressed.
Others like business owner Belinda Morrow, of Beehive in Jamaica Inn were delighted that they were able to find a wide variety of Jamaican distributors in one location. “It’s really great to have all these vendors, artisans here for me to see. Our little shop only sells Jamaican stuff and I know we have a lot of stuff here [in Jamaica] but I just can’t find it. So it’s great for me to find them all in one place. It’s been a great experience,” she shared.
Exhibitors were also excited about being a part of Christmas in July. Many expressed gratitude to mingle with fellow business owners as well as the opportunity to showcase their products directly to their niche market.
Chief Executive Officer of Sweetie Confectionery, Patria-Kaye Aarons, said the event has been very fruitful for her. “I have actually found it to be really good,” she expressed. “There are some real business potentials. For example I had an HR Manager come by my display. She’s not necessarily seeking only Christmas gifts but what can she do for her staff on their birthdays? I’m a great option. I hope they restage something like this again in Montego Bay so people on that side of Jamaica can make use of the opportunities as well,” she added.