Gov’t looks to enhance tourism strategy
THE Ministry of Tourism is collaborating with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and stakeholders from a wide cross-section of industries and government agencies, to enhance its creation of a tourism strategy for Jamaica.
The first in a series of strategy-development workshops slated for resort destinations was held last Friday at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St James. Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett outlined that sustainability of the environment is key to strengthening the ability of Jamaicans to supply the services and goods needed “to not only make tourism inclusive and the driver of the economy of Jamaica but, most important, to make it the centre of community enrichment and human development”.
Lorenzo Escondeur, the IDB’s chief of operations for Jamaica, said though the country’s tourism industry had made a remarkable recovery from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges such as environmental degradation, climate-change impact, new disruptive technologies and a rapid change in demand patterns will require collaboration among the public sector and multilateral organisations to further the sector’s development.
Outlining development of the national economy as key to his vision for tourism in the immediate future, Bartlett said a key component of achieving this goal was to build the capacity against the demand that tourism brings.
The collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism and the IDB has the support of the Planning Institute of Jamaica and involves several specialised firms and consultants in the development of a set of in-depth diagnostics to inform the future Jamaica Tourism Strategy.
Technology is being utilised as a major tool by the Ministry of Tourism in its drive to build resilience and substantiality in tourism and connect smaller players in the industry to larger enterprises.
“We established a platform called ALEX (Agri-Linkages Exchange), which connects the small farmers of one to five acres, in deep-rural regions, to purveyors and procurement officers in the hotels all across Jamaica,” Bartlett pointed out.
“On their smartphones, they can work out prices and delivery systems that allow for produce to be brought directly from farm gate to hotel,” he added.
Launched in 2020, farmers earned more than J$330 million in revenue in 2022 via the ALEX platform.
Build a legacy
Since January 2023, earnings were reported in excess of J$100 million.
“It calls for a shared commitment from each one of us in this room today. Let us seize this opportunity to work together, unifying our vision and efforts to secure the future of our beloved country and build a legacy we can proudly pass on to future generations,” the tourism minister urged.
“With the right strategy and plan in place, we can achieve all these objectives and more. I urge you all to join hands and work towards creating a comprehensive Tourism Strategy and Action Plan for Jamaica.”
Escondeur said working in close collaboration with the Jamaican government, the private sector, and civil society in such a strategic sector as tourism was crucial for implementing the bank’s mission of improving people’s lives.
He indicated that the Inter-American Development Bank “would continue supporting the Jamaican government to design and implement an evidence-based strategy that will guide all public and private sector stakeholders into a new future”.