Montego Bay, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller has called for stronger linkages to be developed between tourism and other sectors within the region. The Prime Minister issued the charge as she last night officially opened the premier Caribbean travel marketing event Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2014, which is now in high gear at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James.
Prime Minister Simpson-Miller, herself a former Minister of Tourism, said she recognised that “our region’s performance in tourism is one we can all be proud of. It has enormous potential for growth.”
She outlined the drive in Jamaica to strengthen the linkages created between tourism and other sectors of the economy and encouraged other Caribbean destinations to undertake similar initiatives.
It was noted that a Tourism Linkages Hub has been established in Jamaica’s Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment. This Linkages Hub is driving a process to further develop and strengthen the linkages between tourism and other sectors such as manufacturing and agriculture.
She emphasized that “this need not be a strictly national initiative. I would wish to see similar initiatives taking place on a regional level. There is enormous potential within our region to supply this sector’s collective needs.”
The Prime Minister noted that “some members of our Caribbean community have greater potential for agricultural productivity. Others may be further along the road in manufacturing. Forging firmer linkages between our productive sectors and the region’s tourism sector can only be of benefit to us all. Jamaica would be a willing and active participant in any such initiative.”
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, welcomed the gathering of Caribbean government ministers and top executives of the regional tourism sector to the prestigious event, which is being staged in Jamaica for the fourth time. Dr. McNeill said the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, CHTA’s choice of Jamaica as host of Caribbean Travel Marketplace was seen as “an honour and a nod of approval, as it speaks to the island’s readiness and capacity as a tourist destination to host an event of this kind.”
Among those in attendance at the grand opening ceremony at the Convention Centre venue were Ministers of Tourism from St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Bermuda, St. Lucia, St. Martin and Grenada as well as the top brass of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the CHTA, the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment and its agencies, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association as well as Virgin Holidays.
Dr. McNeill said while 2013 was a challenging year for the Caribbean, “despite all of that there is reason to be optimistic this year.” He underscored that Jamaica for the first time had over two million stopover visitors in any one year and he said tourism continues to gain prominence throughout the region “and this event has done a great deal to advance its status.”
The Minister stressed that in the minds of many consumers, “the Caribbean and tourism are synonymous” and he marvelled at the influence and the reach of the Caribbean “that allows us to flex our tourism muscles and attract the world’s most influential travel and tourism buyers under one roof at Caribbean Travel Marketplace.”