KINGSTON, Jamaica – A newly released Tourism Demand Study, commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, has revealed that opportunities created by tourism for the trade of locally-made goods and services could be worth an estimated J$70 billion. Copies of the study were presented to media representatives at a press briefing held on February 2, 2016. The briefing was hosted by Chairman of the Tourism Linkages Council, Donovan Perkins at Sagicor Bank Jamaica Limited’s New Kingston offices.
The J$8.6million Study states that though many hoteliers are being supplied by local businesses, many of them are importing goods that can be sourced locally.
It also indicates that the opportunity for trade could be as high as J$56.7 billion annually for processed foods, J$5.3 billion for fruits and J$1.6 billion for vegetables. The estimated annual leakage in the manufacturing sector is J$65.4 billion, which is equivalent to 33% of the estimated total annual expenditure of businesses in the sector on manufactured goods.
Leakages in the agricultural sector are also estimated to be within the range of J$1.6 billion – J$5 billion, which is 8.5% – 25.5% of annual expenditure on agricultural products.
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill explained that his ministry has identified the constraints faced by potential suppliers in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors to meet the demand of hoteliers. He explained that the Ministry will use the empirical data in the study to put plans in place to address the constraints so that the Jamaican economy can benefit more.
“The good news is that 70% of hotels indicated that they are spending less than 10% of food expenditures on imported agricultural products. So, it makes sense to target agriculture and manufacturing to reduce imports and increase the use of locally grown fruits and vegetables, locally produced goods and services. This is big money for Jamaica. We want to earn more and keep more earnings here,” said Minister McNeill.
Chairman of the Tourism Linkages Council stated that it is the hope of the Tourism Linkages Hub, that this demand study – which was conducted by the Centre for Leadership and Governance and funded by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund – will provide empirical data required to create the framework for effective planning and identifying the demand for goods and services in the expanding local tourism industry.
“An expanding tourism industry can and will benefit all of us in Jamaica. The tourism demand study has a wealth of information that will help guide businesses in where many opportunities lie within tourism,” said Perkins.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Nicola Madden-Greig shared that the study should also serve to encourage the tourism sector to view the local agriculture and manufacturing sectors as main providers of goods and services in areas with distinct competitive advantage.
“The Linkages initiative has broken down barriers that existed long ago and misunderstandings in terms of: What is the availability? What are the opportunities? How can I take advantage of them? So, I think that through the Tourism Linkages Hub and the Tourism Demand Study we have now opened the doors really wide for persons in the industry to look across the aisle to see what’s available locally,” she stated.