MINISTER of Tourism and Entertainment Wykeham McNeill said government is making efforts to position tourism as the main driver of the Jamaican economy.
During his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, McNeill praised the performance of the sector and added that the country had “significant investment potential on the horizon".
“Global trends are positive, the performance of our local sector is very credible, our arrivals are good,” said McNeil.
“The prospect for job creation is excellent. So there is no doubt that tourism will drive growth in our economy,” he added.
However, the tourism minister explained, “if tourism is to accelerate growth in the economy to the level we would like, we need to do more than just increase our arrivals and the levels of investment.
“We must deepen the linkages between tourism and the rest of the economy especially agriculture and manufacturing. We have to look at how tourism impacts the lives of the workers, while deepening the relationship with the people of Jamaica.”
He noted that the Ministry of Agriculture has revealed that 30 per cent in value of the agricultural produce consumed by the hotel subsector is grown locally.
"They have determined that this can be increased to 60 per cent if there is greater collaboration between tourism and agriculture," he said.
McNeill outlined that “the strategies being examined to address this issue include identifying the supply needs at the investment stage such as agricultural produce, improving distribution systems, improving short-term financing and providing information on available opportunities to potential investors.”
The minister said that there has already been dialogue between stakeholders in tourism, agriculture and manufacturing.
“We’ve already had some critical meetings and have brought representatives from the agricultural sector, JAMPRO and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, to the table and we will continue this process,” said McNeill.