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'We cannot fear competition'

Portia urges regional tourism interests to be bold, innovative

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 15, 2014    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has charged regional players in the tourism sector to not be afraid of global competition.

"There is competition today. If you fear it you will not survive tomorrow. We cannot fear competition," Simpson Miller argued.

"My own sense, as a former minister of tourism, is that the Caribbean tourism's vision on competition is both narrow and clouded. The vision is narrow because it does not accept that we must compete for primacy of the complete product. Most destinations have sea and sun. So, to compete effectively, the policy must be innovative and the strategy must embrace concepts of sustainability as reflected in Jamaica's Master Tourism Plan," she said.

Simpson Miller further challenged Caribbean tourism interests to remain on the cutting edge as the Latin American tourism establishments "are rapidly embracing that approach".

The prime minister was addressing the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association's (CHTA), Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2014, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James, Sunday night.

She recommended that players in the tourism industry move to establish trade linkages with other business sectors across the region.

"We need to further develop and strengthen the linkages between tourism and other sectors of our economy. This need not be a strictly national initiative. I would like to see similar initiatives taking place on a regional level," Simpson Miller said.

"There is enormous potential within our region to supply this sector's collective needs. Some members of our Caribbean community have greater potential for agricultural productivity, others may be further along the road in manufacturing. Forging firmer linkages between our productive sectors and the region's tourism sector can only be of benefit to all of us. Jamaica will be willing and active participant in such initiative," she added.

Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2014, the premier tourism marketing event, serves as a platform to showcase Jamaica's tourism product.

It is the largest and most important business-to-business marketing event for the region's hospitality industry.

More than 1,200 delegates from over 26 countries in North America, South America and Europe are in attendance at the trade show.

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