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  • Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Morning.
  • It is my pleasure to welcome you to the first meeting of the newly expanded Tourism Linkages Council.
  • I have appointed ten new members whose experience, expertise and passion from across diverse industries will complement the existing skill set within the Council.  The team will be ably led by newly appointed Chairman, Adam Stewart – a dynamic hotelier with a proven track record.
  • Mr. Stewart replaces Mr. Donovan Perkins, whom I wish to thank for his invaluable contribution to the Council and the success of the Tourism Linkages Network.
  • I am looking forward to the fresh insight of the new members and the wider team as we seek to deepen the linkages between tourism and other sectors of the economy, thus stimulating further growth in these areas.
  • I will now introduce the new members of the Tourism Linkages Council:
    1. Adam Stewart – Chief Executive Officer of Sandals Resort International (SRI)
    2. Andrene Collings – Director, MSME Office, Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries
    3. Omar Robinson – President, Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association
    4. Peter Thompson – CEO, Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA)
    5. Christine Cohen – Owner, Spa Retreat Boutique Hotel
    6. David Butler – CEO, Digicel
    7. Kamal Bankay –  Entertainment Consultant
    8. Mauricio Pulido – CEO, GB Energy Jamaica
    9. Ronald McKay – President, American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica
    10. Anup Chandiram – Director, Bijou
  • These new members will join the august group of public and private sector partners who have been doing an excellent job of steering the linkages initiative to date. I want to commend you all on a job well done and I am confident that the addition of the new members will help to drive the process forward.
  • In today’s harsh economic environment, collaborative relationships that build capacity and sustainability are key drivers of socio-economic advancement through the creation of jobs and the provision of opportunities to increase and retain earnings.
  • This underscores the importance of the Tourism Linkages Council and its Network to tourism’s success.  Strengthening linkages is a way to create ‘win-win’ situations by tapping the power of private enterprise to fuel national development.
  • Since its inception three years ago, the Tourism Linkages Network has been reaping success in its efforts to strengthen the relationship between tourism and other sectors, such as manufacturing, agriculture and the creative industries through various innovative initiatives:
    •  Christmas in July Exhibition
    • Agro-Tourism Farmers’ Markets
    • Speed Networking Events
    • More recently, the Tourism Linkages Network is currently partnering with the Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Show to strategically leverage that event to strengthen the growing synergy between the two sectors.
  • Despite these successes we realize that there is much more work to be done to increase the tourism sector’s demand for and consumption of local goods and services.
  • The results of the recently commissioned Tourism Demand Study tell the true story:
    • There is tremendous opportunity for trade that could be as high as J$56.7 billion annually for processed foods, J$5.3 billion for fruits, and J$1.6 billion for vegetables.
    • Annual leakage in the manufacturing sector is estimated at some J$65.4 billion, which is equivalent to 33 percent of total annual expenditure by the tourism sector on manufactured goods.
    • In the agriculture sector, leakage is estimated to be in the range of J$1.6 billion to J$5.0 billion, which represents 8.5 percent to 25.5 percent of annual expenditure on agricultural products.
  • To tackle these issues, I am challenging you the members of the Tourism Linkages Council to effectively guide the Network’s formulation and implementation of sustainable strategies which strengthen linkages with the domestic economy, reduce leakage and help to spread more of the economic benefits of tourism to more Jamaica.
  •  Without a strong linkages framework, it is too easy for players in the tourism sector to purchase only the essentials locally, while making the bulk of their purchases from already-familiar distant suppliers. As a result, major opportunities for local economic development are missed.
  • Ladies and gentlemen our tourism sector has significant potential, but it will only thrive if we work as partners in building it. 
  • In this way, we will ensure that the benefits of the sector have a positive impact not only on those who live in the resort areas but all throughout Jamaica.
  • We have a great team here and I want to thank you all for volunteering your time and talent to the Council. I am confident that this expanded Council can provide the oversight, resources and direction necessary to fulfill our mandate of transforming Jamaica’s tourism sector to drive growth to the benefit all Jamaicans.

Thank you.