This special events aids in the ministry’s steadfast commitment to promoting the inclusion and success of small and medium tourism enterprises in the lucrative tourism value chain.
Speaking at the opening of the Christmas in July trade show event yesterday, the Minister noted that “The purpose of this showcasing is a fulfillment of government’s policy in relation to how we are building the capacity of our small and medium tourism enterprises and players to benefit from and tap into the lucrative and elongated tourism value chain.”
He also highlighted that small and medium enterprises drive 80% of tourism, but only 20% of the returns from tourism benefit this 80%, creating an asymmetry that needs rebalancing. To address this, Jamaica is building the capacity of its small enterprises to scale up, innovate, add value, and meet the growing demand in the tourism industry.
Bartlett said that one of Jamaica’s primary platforms for achieving this goal is the annual Christmas in July trade show, which brings together key stakeholders from the tourism sector, corporate Jamaica, government entities, embassies, missions, and international organizations.
The two-day event, which opened yesterday at the AC Hotel in Kingston, saw an impressive turnout with over 600 patrons eagerly exploring the showcases and engaging with 175 exhibitors, 53 of whom are returning participants, while 122 are participating in the trade show for the first time.
While Christmas in July has been crucial in introducing locally made products to the tourism sector, the tourism minister shared that there is still ample opportunity for growth. Noting that in the first half of 2023, Jamaica saw a potential market of 2.2 million shoppers made up of stopover arrivals and cruise passengers, generating earnings of US$2.2 billion.
“What we are looking at is a growing market.”
“We do things like Christmas in July because this is a showcase where you can come with your goods and the services you provide and make contracts,” said the Minister in his address to the exhibitors.
During his remarks at the event, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, the Minister of Industry, Investment, & Commerce, recognized the importance of the Christmas in July trade show in showcasing the creativity and innovation of Jamaican entrepreneurs, artisans, and manufacturers. He also lauded the event as an opportunity that generates exports and foreign exchange earnings for the country, making it stronger and more resilient.
“The Tourism Linkages Network intersects with a key objective of Jamaica’s business ministry, which is to generate a lot more exports and thereby earn a great deal of foreign exchange earnings for a country which will make us stronger and better country tourism…Christmas in July is making clear that there is a demand and that there are producers. Our producers and investors must get together to increase the linkages,” said Senator Hill.
The annual event is an initiative of The Tourism Linkages Network, alongside partners such as the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), and the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA).
The event typically features diverse products, including spa and aromatherapy, décor, clothing, fine art, jewelry, souvenirs, foods, and organic and natural fibers.
Between 2015 and 2022, the value of sales of the Christmas in July trade show was just under $136 million. In 2022, 180 manufacturers participated in the trade show, and 74% reported increased brand exposure and sales leads. During the event survey, 104 manufacturers shared that they made sales ranging from $10,000 to $600,000 each. The Tourism Linkages Network, a Tourism Enhancement Fund department, then notes all recommendations made by participating manufacturers to shape future trade shows.