MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – With thousands of new hotel rooms coming on stream in the next two years, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett is making a case for major investments to meet a greater demand for supplies in growing the tourism sector in Jamaica.
In his keynote address to open the fifth Tourism Linkages Speed Networking event at the Montego Bay Convention Centre yesterday, Mr. Bartlett underscored the need for a large volume of local supply of consistent quality and at competitive prices, to better meet demand.
“That cannot be done by the small and medium enterprises and so we need new partnerships to be forged between our larger stakeholders and suppliers of the country,” he said. But, he stressed, “Not a partnership that is driven by the government but one which realizes that the value chain can be enhanced and their own integrative strategies can be enabled if they partner with suppliers.”
The Tourism Minister advocated Jamaica attracting large investment from suppliers who have done well in other countries to partner with locals to produce at the quality, volume and price required. “They did it in the Dominican Republic and I want it to be done in Jamaica,” he asserted.
Mr Bartlett said he was pushing for this kind of partnership because in relation to what is required to get US$5 billion in five years, “we are looking now at another 10,000 rooms that will be ready by 2020 (and) there is the demand for more goods and services, so we need investment on the supply side and that’s what I am going for.”
He stressed that tourism was poised to play an even greater role in preserving and maintaining growth in Jamaica and other countries, but while there have been quantitative gains with a record 4.3 million visitors to Jamaica last year, the nearly US$3 billion in earning was inadequate. “It also indicated that the average spend of the visitor to Jamaica for stopover purposes is only US$134 and for cruise passengers, just US$90. What that tells you is that these figures are not acceptable, they are not high enough,” said Minister Bartlett.
To get a larger spend from the tourist, attention must be given to his consumption pattern, said Mr Bartlett who suggested that hotels should have a consistent supply of Jamaican goods and services for their guests. With the millions of tourists visiting, Minister Bartlett questioned, “whose food are they eating?” and “whose manufactured goods are they consuming?”
He said the Ministry of Tourism was spearheading a strategy arrangement to get Jamaican goods and services to the visitors, with the Linkages Network playing a pivotal role.
The success of the Speed Networking event was lauded by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association’s President, Omar Robinson and the Jamaica Manufacturers Association President, Metry Seaga who also supported the call for a greater use of Jamaican foods and manufactured goods throughout the tourism sector.