Local suppliers in Jamaica to cash in on tourism investments

An impressive list of international and local hotel chains, along with some independent properties have committed to investing in Jamaica to the tune of a whopping $10 billion US over the short term.

There are conservative estimates of 12,000 direct jobs, and a plethora of indirect jobs as the effects of these investments ripple down to almost every sector of the economy from food suppliers to transportation, to construction, to entertainment.

But what does this really mean to our local economy? How can local attractions, manufacturers, distributors, and other such entrepreneurs ensure that they are well poised to reap these immense benefits?

According to Pat Francis, President of the nation’s Investment Promotions Agency, JAMPRO, “it is imperative that the local private sector and those involved in the tourism value chain prepare themselves to take advantage of the opportunities that will arise from the pending investment in tourism.”

She adds that JAMPRO will be hosting “Winning Business Opportunities: Maximizing Local Links in the Tourism Chain”, on July 6 and 7 at the Wyndham Rosehall in Montego Bay, in a bid to ensure that the local economy capitalizes on these opportunities.

According to Mrs. Francis, “We exist in a global environment and whereas local suppliers will indeed benefit simply by being in territory, the extent to which we benefit will only be determined by the suppliers’ ability to face global competition.” She adds, “as far as possible we must avoid ‘leakages’, described as money spent by the investor outside the domestic economy, via the importation of goods and services”.

The two-day “Winning Business Opportunities” seminar and exposition will present the ideal forum for all suppliers to the industry to showcase their goods and network with international and local investors including representatives from the Spanish chains who will attend the event with a view to establishing a database of potential local contractors.

Project Manager and head of Business Development at JAMPRO, Mrs. Lisa Bell added that participants in the two-day event should explore and exploit this opportunity “to engage other buyers and suppliers and to receive key information on international trends, methodologies and funding opportunities available to the broader tourism cluster.”

The first day of the event will target participants from the entertainment, transportation, construction & housing, and all areas of manufacturing such as leisure apparel and accessories, bedding, chemicals and other products used in the operations of hotels. Some of the other sectors to be included are: Support services – tours, transportation, restaurants, business services; creative industries – entertainment, information technology, museums, and new media; training and human resource development; shopping; health care services; agriculture/Agro-processing, horticulture and landscaping.

The second day, entitled “Attractions: Jamaica’s Nouveau Niche”, will focus on preparing the Attractions sub-sector for taking advantage of the imminent accommodation investments in tourism. It will focus primarily on tours and attractions and will feature Hugh Darley, President, Idea International Designs and Entertainment Associates (IDEA). Mr. Darley is an expert on destination branding whose client list includes: Mirage Resorts, Hilton Nevada Corp., The Barbados Tourism Authority, The Port Authority of Jamaica, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Island Outpost, Island Village, The Bob Marley Foundation, and Tropic Star Lodge- Panama. Mr. Darley also lectures on destination branding at the Harvard Design School.

President of JAMPRO, in support of her organisation’s role noted, “It is clear that for the host economy, linkages can stimulate increased economic activity and have a positive effect on balance of payments as local products begin to replace imported ones. The process, however, has to be strategically managed in order to maximize the economic impact on the local economy.

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