Tourism Ministry to Push Food Festivals

Photo: JIS Photographer Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett. (File photo)

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the Ministry will be using food festivals as a strategic marketing tool to tap into the lucrative gastro-tourism market.
  • Mr. Bartlett noted that 88 per cent of tourists travel to destinations primarily to partake of the local food, and with Jamaica having one of the finest cuisines in the world, this will be utilised in attracting more visitors to the island.
  • He noted that in addition to serving as a source of income for local communities, food festivals bring residents together, while instilling within them a sense of pride in showcasing local delicacies to foreigners.

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the Ministry will be using food festivals as a strategic marketing tool to tap into the lucrative gastro-tourism market.

Mr. Bartlett noted that 88 per cent of tourists travel to destinations primarily to partake of the local food, and with Jamaica having one of the finest cuisines in the world, this will be utilised in attracting more visitors to the island.

“We are going to bring people from all over the world to delight themselves in Jamaican food and delicacies,” he said.

Mr. Bartlett, who was speaking to JIS News following a church service in Montego Bay as part of the build-up to start the winter tourist season on December 15, pointed out that Jamaica’s jerked cuisine has now become “the stuff of legends”.

“Our jerked chicken…the jerked pork…people talk about it all over the world. Immediately after you talk about Jamaica, after Bob Marley and Usain Bolt, it’s jerk,” he said.

“Our Blue Mountain Coffee, our spices, our rum, our seafood… and all those edibles that we have been delighting the palates of the world with… we are going to celebrate and build out products around them so they can be drivers to bring more visitors to Jamaica and earn more money for our people,” Minister Bartlett added.

He noted that in addition to serving as a source of income for local communities, food festivals bring residents together, while instilling within them a sense of pride in showcasing local delicacies to foreigners.

“Not only do festivals attract visitors, thus stimulating tourism, they also promote growth and the visibility of other businesses in a town or region. I want to sit with organisers and work out the logistics where we can do these things the right way, where the events can become a fixture on the national calendar,” the Minister said.

He noted further that the festivals would provide free marketing and advertising for local businesses since visitors “talk about their fun experiences when they go back home”.

“The economic benefits of successful festivals are tremendous. The benefits are such where they affect tourism and non-tourism-related businesses alike,” he added.

Mr. Bartlett noted that the shopping tourism market also provides exciting opportunities for Jamaica. He said that nearly 60 per cent of the visitors travel to shop.

“The Chinese are the largest travelling public in the world today,” Minister Bartlett pointed out. “I am told that by 2020, nearly 300 million Chinese will be travelling all over the world. We just want to get .01 per cent of that to come to Jamaica. We have to prepare for that possibility, and shopping is a big item,” he said.

He added that shopping is not only about the duty-free shops, but involves the creative energy of the people who “have the skill sets to produce authentic Jamaican-made goods that can generate a lot of foreign exchange”.

JIS Social