Plans Well Advanced to Market Jamaica as Hub for Gastronomic Tourism

Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (second left), bites into a ‘Bad Dawg’ sandwich at the launch of Devon House as the first Gastronomic Centre in Kingston on May 29. Others (from left) are: Head of the Tourism Linkages Network, Carolyn McDonald Riley; Chairperson of the Gastronomy Tourism Network, Nicola Madden-Greig, and Senior Director of Technical Services in the Ministry, David Dobson.

Story Highlights

  • The rich, authentic and tantalising tastes of Jamaican foods and wines are to be showcased when well-advanced plans by the Tourism Ministry to market Jamaica as a hub for Gastronomic Tourism materialise.
  • The Ministry’s first step in claiming a piece of that market is the establishment of a number of Gastronomic Centres across the island, with Devon House, in Kingston, as the first.
  • Gastronomic tourism refers to that branch of the sector where persons make trips to destinations where the local food and beverages are the main motivating factors for travel.

The rich, authentic and tantalising tastes of Jamaican foods and wines are to be showcased when well-advanced plans by the Tourism Ministry to market Jamaica as a hub for Gastronomic Tourism materialise.

The Ministry’s first step in claiming a piece of that market is the establishment of a number of Gastronomic Centres across the island, with Devon House, in Kingston, as the first.

For the heritage site, the Ministry plans to improve upon its environs by providing a space where visitors from across the world can come to cook their own meals.

“We’ll be establishing a kitchen. We’re inviting the world to come and cook at Devon House. Families can come; no chef will be in the kitchen, you are the chef,” Portfolio Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, tells JIS News.

As part of the culinary experience, a fully stocked farmers’ market will be established where visitors can purchase spices and condiments to include in the cooking of meals at Devon House.

Gastronomic tourism refers to that branch of the sector where persons make trips to destinations where the local food and beverages are the main motivating factors for travel.

According to the 2012 United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) report, 88.2 per cent of persons “consider that gastronomy is a strategic element defining the brand and image of their destination.”

The report notes that territory is the backbone of gastronomic offerings and is an element that differentiates, and is the source of local identity.

Head of the Tourism Linkages Network, Carolyn McDonald Riley, says focus is being placed on gastronomic tourism in order to tap into the 88.2 per cent of persons travelling to destinations.

Mrs. Riley also wants Jamaica to carve out a slice of the industry which is valued at US$150 billion.

“If food is the dominant reason why people are travelling, then we should be marketing our foods, and what we do with food, this is one of the driving factors,” she argues.

She says that gastronomic tourism has been identified as a medium for diversifying the tourism product and “we think it will strengthen our competitive advantage”.

She notes that this advantage over other countries is due mainly to the variety of fruits and foods which are not found in other places except Jamaica.

The Tourism Linkages Head informed that plans are presently ongoing to identify other centres for gastronomy, locally.

Around the world, several countries, such as Italy, Spain, Brazil, Korea, Egypt and Azerbaijan, have marketed their territories successfully for gastronomic tourism.

Mrs. Riley informs that Spain created the first platform of development for gastronomic tourism with a wine tourism prototype known as a ‘Joyful Journey’.

A Joyful Journey aims to provide an innovative way to promote Spain and its culture through wineries and meet the demands of emerging consumer profiles.

“We have a lot of (foods and wines) to choose from and I am sure we can market Jamaica as a food destination,” she says.

Mrs. Riley argues that aside from the tourists, even the “little man” is able to benefit from gastronomic tourism, “as it empowers persons who make up the value chain.”

JIS Social