The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (Jampro) said it will be going after newer industries such as the blue economy as it pushes to drive diversification and bring greater value-added for the country.
According to the European Commission, the blue economy involves "all economic activities related to oceans, seas and coasts." It entails the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and job creation while preserving the health of ocean ecosystems.
With the oceans, seas and coastal areas categorised among large contributors to food security and poverty eradication, and some 80 per cent of world trade now being achieved through the sea, the blue economy through its vast water resources has been dubbed by many, including the United Nations, as the "next great economic frontier".
President of Jampro Shullette Cox said that while her agency was not yet clear about what it wanted to do in this industry, it is being eyed as a new area for growth.
"We haven't quite narrowed down on what we will be pushing in this area, but we definitely see it as an area from which we can extract growth. We have more Jamaican territory in water than we do on land and so it is a huge opportunity that we will be looking into, across all its elements, to see what areas we can get into," she told journalists at a recent Jamaica Observer Business Forum.
Further speaking at the forum, the president also identified existing industries which she said are being primed to bring increased gains for the locally economy, especially in the post-COVID era when the need for economic diversification intensifies.
"When we think of tourism, we've traditionally done the all-inclusive and leisure concept but right now we are pushing other segments such as business tourism. Similarly, with the opening up of St Thomas and Portland, we're also looking to see a lot more eco-tourism being facilitated as a result," she said.
"Attractions is another area, which for a very long while we have not been actively promoting, but as the room count grows, attractions are going to become a lot more important especially if we want to ensure that the money gets spent in the economy. There is also a push behind medical tourism as we work to deepen the industries that we already have," she added.
Pointing to industries such as agriculture, she said an aggressive thrust was now behind agri-business as the country moves to extract more value from its raw materials.
Suggesting that while we may have missed the boat with crops such as marijuana, she said vast opportunities were now presenting themselves in products such as castor and other essential oils which are available locally.
"Mushrooms are something that we are also now looking at, as well as orchard crops.
"We've for a long time shied away from orchard crops because of the long time it takes before it starts to make money but I think people are now convinced that this is a good area for investment when they see, for example, the number of mangoes that we are now able to export to markets overseas. They have also started to realise the potential of other fresh produce including avocados, breadfruit, ackees and even tubers," she further said, underscoring that diversification has really started to take existing industries to another level.
With the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) worth trillions globally, and annually is said to have contributed billions locally, this she cited as another of the more contemporary areas positioned in the line-up for increased exploration.
"The recent establishment of our local screen fund will boost opportunities in this area. We are now working with our ministry partners to draft a governance working group, so that we can get things going. We will be doing a call for proposals during the first half of this year, and when we go out, we want to make sure that whatever we go out with, is what the industry needs in order to maximise the benefits of the available funds," President Cox further said.
The billion-dollar Jamaica Screen Fund launched recently was set-up to provide financing for the development and production of film and television (TV) shows in the country.
In an era of rapid digitisation and technology, the fast-growing business process outsourcing (BPO)/ global services sector (GSS) was another which the president said also remains among strong sectors fuelling growth. Going forward, the intent she said is to further grow this industry to deliver higher value-added services through information and knowledge process outsourcing.
"This industry has been found to be a bit more aggressive than our traditional sectors and though they continue to do very well, through an Inter-American Bank Development (IDB) project we are pushing to have more companies launch into the information technology outsourcing (ITO) space," Cox said.