A Call for Stronger Links Between Tourism and Agriculture


State Minister in the Ministry of Industry and Tourism, Dr. Wykeham McNeil has called for stronger links between tourism and agriculture, so that communities located outside of traditional resort areas, could reap greater direct benefits from tourism.
“If our farms can be more profitable, our rural communities can be more economically vibrant, thereby slowing the massive drift of our population toward the urban centres. Many of the problems we are having in cities like Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay are caused by overcrowding as persons leave their rural homes to seek a better life,” the Minister said.Speaking at the National Cane Cutters’ Competition in Frome, Westmoreland, on Saturday (Feb. 7), Dr. McNeil said the historical significance of Frome made it one of the country’s most important heritage sites for both locals and visitors.
He mentioned that the farming and manufacturing sectors together contributed some 22 per cent of Jamaica’s gross domestic product.
“I can see where this can be increased tremendously if we can create synergies between farming, manufacturing and tourism that add value to our primary products for both the local and overseas markets,” he said.
Emphasising the importance of this strategic alliance, he noted that the Ministry had been working towards the integration of agriculture with manufacturing and tourism. In that regard, the Ministry has been collaborating with the Agriculture Ministry, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and the Jamaica Manufacturer’s Association with the aim of developing market intelligence so farmers know what products to grow and the quantities needed by agro-processors, hotels and restaurants.
“It is such partnerships that can provide mutual benefit to make our farms, factories and tourism enterprises more profitable.and profitable enterprises stimulate economic growth, thereby determining the extent to which we will solve the problems of unemployment and poverty,” he noted.
He cited Frome Estate as a good example of how an enterprise could combine its involvement in agriculture, agro-processing and tourism to enhance profitability and viability.
Dr. McNeil encouraged farmers to link their businesses with tourism, particularly those in horticulture and fish farming who could consider transforming their properties into attractions.
“Plantation tours, petting farms, pond fishing and gardens are some of the ways in which you can get involved in tourism because visitors are no longer coming to Jamaica for just sun, sand and sea. They want to experience the unique aspects of our country – our culture, food, flora and fauna and, of course, our people,” he said.

JIS Social