LONDON – The potential for investment in Tourism and Agriculture was one of the focuses of the third annual Jamaica/United Kingdom (UK) Investment Forum, which was held in London on March 17.
This year the Forum looked at a number of the Government’s priority areas for international investment, including Tourism, Agriculture and Agro-processing, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), the International Financial Services sector and the Creative Industries.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett and Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton addressed the forum and outlined the potential and incentives available for their sectors.
Mr. Bartlett, who noted that tourism grew by five per cent last year, said the projections for this year is for continued growth, with the country on track to see stop-over arrivals of more than two million, and a 40 per cent growth in cruise arrivals. This trend, he said, is for the best ever visitor numbers, with 3.4 million visitors expected for this year and earnings of US$2.5 billion.
He said one of the challenges is to increase the island’s 'connectivity' or airlifts. This, he said, offered a potential for investment. The Minister also said there is a need for more hotel rooms, investment in attractions and niche areas, such as health and sport tourism. In addition, he said areas that supported the sector are also “crying out for investment." These include the manufacture of furniture, linen, transportation, food and ICT services.
In his contribution, Dr. Tufton said that agriculture is an important area for investment for several reasons, noting that there is already a ready market for Jamaican products.
“There is a reason why agriculture is an important investment. There is a market for Jamaica’s primary and value added products and this (market) can be categorised into four areas – the local market, the tourism industry, the market for branded agro-processing, and the export market for both primary products or further processing,” he said.
Emphasising that the Government is committed to reducing the country's dependence on imported food, Dr. Tufton said there is a drive to increase production and agro-processing.
He said Jamaica is an agrarian society with more than 200,000 farmers. In addition, the extension service had been expanded to provide technical support to farmers and investors. He said Jamaica also had arable land available for production.
The Minister said the research facilities available through the Ministry, the Scientific Research Council and the Universities as well as the trade agreements, including the European Partnership Agreement (EPA) and CARICOM are distinct advantages to investors in agriculture.
By VIVIENNE SIVA