JHTA speed-networking event a success
Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
THE JAMAICA Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) was forced to turn back supplier delegates at its inaugural speed-networking event, owing to oversubscription.
Aimed at broadening relationships between local suppliers and buyers in the tourist industry, the event, held in collaboration with the Tourism Linkages Council and private-sector entities including JAMPRO and the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association, hosted some 82 suppliers and 52 hotel and attraction operators at the Half Moon Conference Centre, on Wednesday.
This resulted in just under 1,000 appointments and robust negotiations.
"We were forced to turn back persons owing to the overwhelming response from the sector," Nicola Madden-Grieg, JHTA president, admitted to The Gleaner, adding that up to Wednesday morning, persons were asking to be paired with industry stakeholders.
Dacia Smith, managing director of AICAD Service Professionals, confirmed the success Madden-Greig spoke of, stating, "This is my first speed networking event and I feel as if I made at least four substantial leads". Smith's nine-year-old company specialises in maintaining and caring marble tiles; the cleaning of drains; kitchen hoods and post-construction clean up.
The vendors in attendance included bedding, appliances, agriculture, manufacturing, spa and beauty, chemical and food and beverage.
"Some persons have reached buyers that they have been trying to make appointments with for many years," said Madden-Greig.
The JHTA president cautioned that overseas suppliers to the industry were very aggressively targeting the local market, while some of the things they are offering are right here in the country.
According to her, an event of this nature was the responsible thing to do. "The people who visit Jamaica are coming here for a true Jamaican experience, and not just sun, sea and sand and the warmth of the people. They must be exposed to the quality Jamaican products and services that we offer," she said.
She pointed out that Jamaica was now offering locally produced world-class spa products. She said, "The packaging is first world, which means we have come a long way".
Opened officially by Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill, he noted that the large turnout was a gratifying demonstration of real commitment to the concept of backward and forward linkages, "which we all realise can make a great contribution to the development of a truly sustainable tourism sector".
Quoting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, McNeill said the "tourism industry provides many opportunities for backward and forward economic linkages, foreign exchange earnings, economic diversification, increased income; employment and poverty reduction".
Lauding the project, he said the collaboration and teamwork of this partnership between the public and private sectors, through the Tourism Linkages Council was a model which could be replicated throughout the society.