Preparations are in high gear to enable Jamaican producers to better meet the demands of a revived tourism industry. To this end, the Ministry of Tourism is working in tandem with the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries and has initiated a series of high-level meetings to finalize the requisite arrangements.
Two crucial meetings were held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on the weekend with representatives from the agricultural sector: One meeting involving the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), to discuss the supply chain for meat and meat cuts, and agricultural produce, and the other with the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association, exploring supply chain issues.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett said the highly anticipated consultations were being undertaken in order to address issues relating to the supply side of the sector. He noted that the discussions were: “In the vein of reimagining tourism in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and to drive the new production and consumption patterns that we require to enable more local Jamaicans to be connected to the tourism value chain.” This is aimed at ensuring that a larger percentage of the tourism dollar stays in Jamaica and more jobs created.
The meetings, spearheaded by Minister Bartlett and Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, were welcomed as they facilitated dialogue with purveyors of goods that are sold to tourism players, followed by a discussion with the hoteliers. “The first element of this arrangement is to have a sense of what the demand is by hearing from the hotels then to hear from the agricultural producers what it is that they can supply,” Mr. Bartlett disclosed.
“The picture emerging from this consultation is that the tourism industry is saying we are ready to start buying local in a fulsome way; what we want is for the local capacity to be developed to ensure the consistency of supply, the quantity and quality and that the price is good,” said Minister Bartlett. He highlighted that “those four factors will influence greatly a higher degree of purchasing from our local providers” and the discussion will continue towards assuring suppliers and purchasers of consistency on both sides.
Chairman of the Tourism Linkages Council, Adam Stewart and Chairman of the Agricultural Sub-Committee, Wayne Cummings will meet with agricultural stakeholders in the next two weeks to fine tune the demand requirements and supply capabilities.
Additionally, Mr. Bartlett said discussions had been initiated with the banking sector to be a part of the drive to facilitate the full recovery of the tourism industry.
He expressed confidence that tourism was showing signs of recovery “and this is why we’re moving so fast to bring the partners together because the pandemic brought tourism literally to a halt and what it meant is that we were all at point zero, and this is a good time to bring the partners together so that we build back together.”
Minister Bartlett underscored that all parties growing together would augur well for the industry and that all Jamaicans stand to benefit from a unified approach.