MINISTER of Tourism Edmund Bartlett has expressed confidence that Jamaican producers will be better able to meet the demands of a revived tourism industry after the novel coronavirus pandemic.
According to Bartlett, the Ministry of Tourism is working in tandem with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and has initiated a series of high-level meetings to finalise the requisite arrangements.
Bartlett said two crucial meetings were held at Montego Bay Convention Centre last weekend with representatives of the agricultural sector. One meeting involved the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) to discuss the supply chain for meat, meat cuts and agricultural produce, while the other involved representatives of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association to explore supply chain issues.
The tourism minister said the highly anticipated consultations were being undertaken in order to address issues relating to the supply side of the sector.
He noted that the discussions were: “In the vein of reimagining tourism in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and to drive the new production and consumption patterns that we require to enable more local Jamaicans to be connected to the tourism value chain.”
Bartlett said this is aimed at ensuring that a larger percentage of the tourism dollar stays in Jamaica and more jobs are created.
The meetings, spearheaded by Bartlett and Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green, were welcomed as they facilitated dialogue with purveyors of goods that are sold to tourism players, followed by a discussion with the hoteliers.
“The first element of this arrangement is to have a sense of what the demand is by hearing from the hotels, then to hear from the agricultural producers what it is that they can supply,” said Bartlett.
“The picture emerging from this consultation is that the tourism industry is saying 'We are ready to start buying local in a fulsome way; what we want is for the local capacity to be developed to ensure the consistency of supply, the quantity and quality, and that the price is good,' ” added Bartlett.
He highlighted that “those four factors will influence greatly a higher degree of purchasing from our local providers”, and the discussion will continue towards assuring suppliers and purchasers of consistency on both sides.
Chairman of the Tourism Linkages Council, Adam Stewart and chairman of the Agricultural Sub-Committee, Wayne Cummings will meet with agricultural stakeholders in the next two weeks to fine-tune the demand requirements and supply capabilities.
Additionally, Bartlett said discussions had been initiated with the banking sector to be part of the drive to facilitate the full recovery of the tourism industry.
He expressed confidence that tourism is showing signs of recovery, “and this is why we're moving so fast to bring the partners together because the pandemic brought tourism literally to a halt and what it meant is that we were all at point zero. And this is a good time to bring the partners together so that we build back together”.
Bartlett argued that all parties growing together would augur well for the industry and that all Jamaicans stand to benefit from a unified approach.