MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon Dr Wykeham McNeill, has underscored the need for more local manufacturers and producers of goods and services to become competitive and benefit from the Ministry’s Tourism Linkages Hub program.
“They have to get to a certain level where they are competitive in price and quantity and they can deliver on time,” said Minister McNeill.
He was responding to questions from local and foreign journalists at a media breakfast hosted on September 21 by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa, Montego Bay, as part of the 25th staging of the Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) travel trade fair.
Citing major developments now taking place in the tourism industry, including some 6,000 new rooms slated to come on stream over the next three years, Minister McNeill said “What we’re seeking to do, as much as possible, is to ensure that the expansion in the sector has a positive effect on the economy of Jamaica so that tourism can truly serve as a social and economic tool for growth.”
He said the Linkages Hub was among a number of initiatives to achieve this goal. Another was the development of community tourism “to get more visitors going out into the communities so that tourism has a greater impact throughout Jamaica.”
A major aim of the linkages program, he said, was to create the climate in which “the things that are consumed in the hotels, from the food that’s eaten to anything that’s manufactured – the curtains, beds – anything at all, that we want to see our manufacturing sector involved.”
Noting that the program was working, Minister McNeill pointed to the expanding range of producers and service providers on show at JAPEX over the last two years. At the outset a few years ago there were only manufacturers and members of the agricultural sector present.
Stressing that the initiative which was started some two years ago, “has been successful,” the Tourism and Entertainment Minister said, “when you go to JAPEX now you are seeing your normal suppliers and providers but you’re also going to see a whole group of persons that provide for the hotels and attractions sector, manufacturers and the agricultural sector as well.”
Another positive outcome of the program, he said, was that a lot of local manufacturers and producers had been expanding into the Caribbean.
“A third phase has now come on stream that’s very promising,” he said. “Persons are now coming to Jamaica, seeing the things that are made here and are contacting our manufacturers and agricultural sector partners to see how they can get in touch with producers of these products and you’re now opening up an export market.”
Minister McNeill said he was pleased with the program so far and was confident that the tourism sector was performing well “and also working to pull the rest of the economy along.”