Smaller hotel properties more amenable to local produce - Study
Small Jamaican hotels have been cited as fostering greater linkages between farmers and the hospitality sector compared to their larger multi-national counterparts over the decades.
In the Tourism Demand Study published by the Ministry of Tourism's Linkages Hub in 2015, the researchers noted that an official of the Ministry of Agriculture stated that the larger hotels were less receptive to Jamaican agricultural products.
"The official indicated that the smaller properties are quite amenable to local produce but that the bigger chain properties are not as amenable. The main reason cited for this was that larger hotels need consistency and volume in supply but are reluctant to offer farmers contracts to produce in large quantities," it noted.
The report also said that farmers were at a disadvantage as the hotels often used middlemen as their suppliers, who, in many cases, exploit the farmers.
"Some of the hotels use middlemen, so they will have a bid and a particular middleman could win the bid to supply local, or a person wins the bid [and] go to another farm and play each farmer against each other to get the best price," the report quoted the agriculture official as saying.
"They are not interested in the long-term welfare of the farmer themselves. It's wherever they can get the goods on spot and cheap, they will buy it and take it to the hotel. So that does not augur well for a structured relationship between the hotels and famers ... ," it added.
The report quoted representatives of the Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA) as saying that a barrier exists between Jamaican producers and foreign-owned entities, which are directed to purchase goods from their homeland, in many instances.
The JMA representatives also expressed dissatisfaction that foreign-owned hotels were not incentivised to patronise local manufacturers. The organisation contends that the Government of Jamaica has failed to pushed new foreign investors to consider local products, and that because of their eagerness to have the investors come to the island, by the time they hotels begin operations, "they are less incentivised to patronise local manufacturers".
They also raised concerns about the government's tourism growth model, that provides tax incentives for large, all-inclusive hotels to establish in Jamaica without any binding requirement for them to patronise local goods and services, a strategy which the World Bank has identified as contributing to the vulnerability and high leakage rates of the local economy.
They contend that JAMPRO and others who are bringing new investments to Jamaica should state explicitly and definitively in the contracts with investors that Jamaican goods and services must be patronised.
"So it is not about we would like them to, or they should be, but the language should go into the contract. What are the requirements of Jamaica if you are going to invest here. There are certain requirements. Put it in the contract," the JMA representatives said.