Tourism minister says multi-billion-dollar demand exists for produce supply to local sector
BARTLETT...there is a $67-billion demandthat exists for just fruits and vegetablesin tourism and when you look at what isrequired for poultry meat, and for eggsand other condiments, we are looking ataround $360 billion of demand overall
Sandals executive chairman says the direct impact of linkages is awesome

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said that there is a $360-billion demand for supplies within the local tourism industry and has urged local producers to invest more on the supply side of the lucrative sector.

“There is a $67-billion demand that exists for just fruits and vegetables in tourism and when you look at what is required for poultry meat, and for eggs and other condiments, we are looking at around $360 billion of demand overall, for agricultural goods in general as well as certain levels of manufactured goods,” Bartlett stated.

He added, “We have the capacity to produce some if that not all, but if we make 20 per cent of that we could see the difference that it will make in terms of the value chain connections between the average Jamaican and the tourism spend.”

The minister, who was speaking at last week's Mayberry investor's forum, said that his ministry's aim over the next few months was to reimagine the sector on the supply side and create better linkage opportunities across industries as well as create new prospects for potential investors.

“We are very excited to be moving in that direction very strongly and by the time I make my budget presentation I will have some better numbers so that all the investors and bankers out there can know where to put their money in this recovery programme for tourism,” he said.

Executive chairman of Sandals Resorts International Adam Stewart, commenting on the power of linkages and the opportunities that it create for the local economy, said that some 96 per cent of produce to Sandals hotels was supplied by local farmers.

“It's been years in the making, it's been a conscious decision that started with my dad and I took over and accelerated the process. The direct impact that this [linkages] has is awesome as it shows what Jamaicans can do — that four per cent gap comes from highly specialised microgreens and things that Jamaica doesn't yet do,” he said.

Stewart, who is also the chairman of the Tourism Linkages Council, said that while it does take effort to get the linkages working correctly, it should be an achievable objective for any country especially those serious about building the local economy. “[Sandals] is now in nine islands in the Caribbean and Jamaica is right at the top, as there is no other country in the British Caribbean that can deliver the way Jamaica can when it comes to linkages and produce,” he said.

Bartlett, in further outlining other areas in the industry that was open to investment, cited the supply of critical COVID security equipment including bio-sanitary technologies as being among those most paramount.

“This is going to become a feature of the new landscape of tourism in Jamaica and globally as the millennial tourists are driven by destinations that have these levels of [safety] assurance born out of the critical protocols now in place,” he stated.

STEWART... some 96 per cent of produce to Sandals hotels was supplied by local farmers
Lettuce produce supplied by a small farmer to hotels

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