Tourism linkages integral to increased foreign earnings
Jamaica can improve on its earnings from tourism through linkages, but for it to happen locals must own the production side of the industry, according to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.
Bartlett made the disclosure at the third staging of the 'Christmas in July' exhibition held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel last Thursday.
While noting that the previous two stagings of the exhibition resulted in contracts worth millions, Bartlett urged local manufacturers to capitalise on the benefits to be derived from linkages with the tourism sector.
"When tourists spend money, linkages happen. For every dollar spent on tourism, 30 cents stay in Jamaica. This is 10 per cent more than other countries in the region, but we can add another 20 cents. However, if the food we eat is not coming from our farms, if our attractions are coming from somewhere else, then it will be difficult,"he said.
Tourism earnings for the first six months of this year totalled US$1.6 billion, a more than eight per cent increase when compared to the corresponding period last year.
While noting that 80 per cent of global tourism is driven by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME), Bartlett said that it was vital to build capacity for that 80 per cent to grow.
Chief executive officer of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Valerie Veira, reaffirmed the agency's commitment to the development of the MSME sector.
"We are seeing genuine support for the creativity within the sector and we believe that linkages will continually strengthen the sector," she said.
Veria added that that the JBDC would continue to ensure the development of producers from concept to market through a full gamut of business development services.
"We want to ensure that we are not a country of samples, but that we are fully prepared to enter the marketplace with a full collection of products," she said.
Approximately 120 producers registered for Christmas in July this year, 80 of which were new.