Bartlett, Shaw working to get more local goods in hotels
Tourism minister Edmund Bartlett says his Ministry is to embark on a series of activities to ensure that imports to the tourism sector see a drastic reduction in the near future.
Speaking at a meeting of the Tourism Linkages Council at the office of the Tourism Enhancement Fund on June 19, Bartlett said that his ministry intends to host a series of town hall meetings, to be organised by the council, to give local producers a better understanding of consumption patterns before making changes.
He argued that this will ultimately have a positive impact on the economy.
Bartlett added that he will be working closely with the Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw, who was a special quest at the meeting, on the issue.
“We have produced over time for seasonality and quotas and we have not become accustomed to 24/ consumption – that is what the tourism industry needs. We have to produce larger volumes and we have to be selective in the products we produce. We also have to bear in mind that the consumption patterns in tourism are the same as the consumption patterns of the locals,” he said.
In response to concerns raised by members of the Council about the buying patterns of international all-inclusive resorts, the tourism minister noted that he will also be meeting with relevant ambassadors in pursuit of an amicable solution.
“After these meetings, we want to bring everyone together in September and hopefully we will have the information and be guided by this empirical data – particularly on demand,” he said.
For his part, Shaw said that his Ministry intends to utilise a number of new initiatives to improve their productivity.
One such initiative is the utilisation of the 'mother farm' concept, which will give large companies an avenue to enter into partnerships with small and medium farmers, by providing them with an avenue to sell their crops.
Shaw said it is important for the ministries to strengthen collaboration, to create more opportunities for local farmers and producers, while enabling visitors to enjoy the Jamaican experience.
He also disclosed that he has written to Prime Minister Andrew Holness to turn the Agricultural Marketing Corporation Complex, located on Spanish Town Road, into a modern processing facility.
A move he believes will ultimately improve local consumption in the hotels.
“It will package fresh food that we make locally – what the hotels can absorb locally they will and what the supermarkets can absorb they will. It will then export it to markets including CARICOM and ultimately third-party markets, such as the tourism industry,” Shaw said.
Bartlett further noted that the Tourism Linkages Network will continue its mandate to increase the consumption of goods and services that can be competitively sourced locally.
The Tourism Linkages Council, which was established in June 2013, is comprised of key public and private sector partners who oversee the coordination and implementation of effective and sustainable strategies which strengthen and facilitate linkages.