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Talking Points By Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett at the Tourism Linkages Speed Networking Event Hilton Rose Hall Hotel & Spa, Montego Bay March 17, 2016

  • Let me extend a warm welcome to everyone here this morning. It is a pleasure to be here in beautiful Montego Bay – the island’s tourism capital – for the third staging of the Tourism Linkages Speed Networking Event.
  • I understand that the previous two speed networking events were a resounding success and I am sure today’s event will be equally productive for participating suppliers and buyers.
  • The linkages initiative is critical to our ongoing efforts to deepen the linkages between tourism and other sectors.
  • It is also represents our continuing efforts to build resilience and sustainability in the industry by ensuring the economic benefits of tourism reach local communities and positively impact more Jamaicans
  • Tourism is one of the country’s major economic development drivers providing much needed investment, employment and foreign exchange earnings for the country.  For this reason, this administration has made tourism central to the growth agenda.
  • We want to ensure that as our tourism sector continues to grow and prosper everyone is able to share equitably in the sector’s success.  Only by integrating tourism with the domestic economy will this be possible.
  • Therefore, tourism’s success cannot be purely a measurement of international arrivals but the multiplier effect on the local population as well.  It is not enough to bring visitors here, what we want is that when they come they consume products that are produced in Jamaica. 
  • We want our hotels to serve food made from produce grown by our farmers, to utilize local furnishings and fixtures; and share our music and culture with their guests. 
  • I am therefore heartened by the collaborative effort between my Ministry, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA), the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and other partners, who are working hard to make this a reality.  This is an example of public-private partnership at its best.
  • This partnership is stimulating sustainable growth in the tourism, agricultural, manufacturing and entertainment sectors. It is allowing the rural population, the entrepreneurs and small traders within the population to realize the potential tourism offers.
  • Through the Tourism Linkages Council, chaired by Donovan Perkins, and ably assisted by linkages project manager, Carolyn McDonald-Riley and her team, the Ministry has implemented a number of initiatives to increase the consumption of locally produced goods and services by our tourism sector.
  • Among the projects that have implemented as a part of this initiative are:
    • Speed Networking Events
    • ‘Christmas in July’
    • The Integration of the Tourism Linkages Hub into JAPEX
  • Along with ongoing facilitation that puts hoteliers in direct contact with local suppliers of products and services, these initiatives have resulted in contracts valued at some J$165 million. 
  • In addition, our agro-tourism farmers’ markets have resulted in contracts between farmers and the hotel sector valued so far at some J$35 million.
  • I am proud to say that quite a few of our hotels are outfitted with furniture from local manufacturers, including Courtyard by Marriott in New Kingston, Half Moon in Montego Bay, and Meliá Braco Village Resort in Trelawny.
  • These are great success stories but there is still room for growth.
  • This is evident from a recently commissioned Tourism Demand Study, which has provided the Ministry with empirical data that will allow us to effectively plan and identify demand for goods and services in the sector.
  • The study shows that 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.
  • When it comes to the agricultural 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.
  • What does this tell us? It proves what we already know; that the opportunities for increased linkages between local suppliers in the tourism sector are vast and diverse.  
  • The tourism sector requires foods and beverages, furniture and bedding, jewellery and cosmetics, transportation, construction and entertainment services, among many others.
  • We will continue to work closely with local suppliers to help them overcome any constraints that may be preventing them from benefiting from the formal tourism sector, such as the inability to supply in large quantities, lack of consistency of supplies and poor quality of products.
  • Together with our partners we will use local capital and resources to help indigenous entrepreneurs develop the skills necessary to deliver a reliable supply of goods at the appropriate quality and at a competitive price.   In this way we can reduce imports, stop leakage and retain more of the tourism dollars. We want to earn more and keep more earnings in Jamaica.
  • In closing, I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard on today’s event – my team at the Ministry, including the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF); the JHTA, the JMA and all our other partners.
  • Tourism can be a powerful catalyst for improving the socio-economic conditions of persons living in tourist destinations like Jamaica. In this regard, the Tourism Ministry and its agencies will continue to pursue opportunities for fruitful partnerships with the private sector to develop the tourism sector in a way that will benefit all Jamaicans.
  • I encourage all the major tourism stakeholders to do the same and partner with their communities to foster economic growth and prosperity.

Thank you.