Tourism linkage networks aim to serve five million visitors
The Tourism Linkages Network (TLN) has added five working groups aimed at matching the supplies of local goods and services with the expanding needs of the tourist sector.
Jamaica aims to grow its tourist market to five million visitors annually in five years.
The new areas of the linkages programme are gastronomy, sports and entertainment, health and wellness, shopping, and knowledge network, each chaired by a member of the Tourism Linkages Council, which oversees the TLN.
The subnetworks will implement and monitor projects approved under TLN, chairman of the council, Adam Stewart, said at the launch.
The networks will meet to design and formulate the projects or programmes as well as review or accept proposals from other stakeholders, Stewart said.
Tourism linkages aim to appeal to the 'passion points' of tourists by providing the key interests that lure visitors to a particular destination, said Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett. The minister announced at the event that five hotel projects are expected to break ground, starting next January, but said the details would be provided later.
"We are taking decisive steps to give the visitors more things to do when they come to our island ... and we can only do this by diversifying our product offerings, Bartlett said.
Jamaica has long promoted its food, music and beaches as part of the tourism experience. The new linkages are meant to plug the holes within the marketing of Jamaica's various tourism offerings and create an integrated platform in which all areas help to sell each other.
"We will be leveraging our food festivals to satisfy those visitors who say good food is an important part of their tourism experience; we will be positioning Jamaica as a major duty-free shopping destination to give visitors more opportunities to spend. We will also be collaborating with event promoters and venue managers to package and promote local music events, festivals and live shows to attract visitors to our shores all throughout the year," Bartlett said.
The gastronomy network will conduct a "satisfaction survey to determine the current attitudes towards culinary tourism", and create a mobile app to push information about eateries and events to the target market.
The sports and entertainment networks will focus on improving the entertainment offerings within hotels, and leverage seasonal events such as carnival to promote the tourism product.
With some establishments already offering elements of health and wellness, this network will seek to boost the marketing of these services to tourists while facilitating development of the nutraceuticals sector.
A key area in branding Jamaica as a shopping destination will be removing the challenges in dealing with the customs department, Stewart said.
The work of the TLN is expected to help the tourism sector reach its goals of annual earnings of US$5 billion, grow jobs to 125,000 and add at least 15,000 new rooms to the current stock of 30,000.
With these five new technical working groups, the Tourism Linkages Council now comprises seven linkages, the first two being agriculture and manufacturing.