Push for more local products in hotels

(From left) Dr. Wykeham McNeill: We want to get visitors to spend more, and for us to keep more of that in Jamaica. JMA President Brian Pengelley said his body will share information with the tourism sector about the products that are made here.

KINGSTON — Government is expected to announce an initiative early next year as part of its thrust to ensure more local products are used in Jamaica’s hotels and attractions, Tourism Minister Dr. Wykeham McNeill has disclosed.

McNeill said his ministry has been meeting with stakeholders in the tourism sector, as well as in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, and that a proposed plan will go to Cabinet soon.

“One of the things we are looking at as a priority is to get the visitors to spend more, and for us to keep more of that in Jamaica,” McNeill said.

He added that he felt strongly about determining “how we can get more of the value of the produce consumed in the hotels produced here in Jamaica”.

McNeill said there has been a series of meetings involving the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, the Jamaica Manufacturers Association and the Tourism Ministry with the aim of getting more locally made products into the hotels and attractions.

One such meeting at the Terra Nova Hotel in St Andrew on Tuesday, involving senior managers in the hotel sector and the JMA, attracted a lot of interest.

Addressing the meeting, McNeil noted that one in every four jobs in Jamaica can be attributed directly or indirectly to tourism, and challenged the manufacturers to set about closing the import substitution gap of $1.7 billion.

Misguided perceptions

“There is some perception that the manufacturing sector does not have the capacity to meet the demand of the tourism sector in terms of quantity, quality and price. On the other hand, there is a perception that tourism only wants to purchase overseas. Let us prove this wrong” McNeil challenged the large turnout of manufacturers and hospitality figures.

He asked permanent secretary in the Tourism Ministry, Jennifer Griffith, to lead the process of data gathering and information dissemination required to drive the process forward.

He also requested chief executive officer of Grace Kennedy Don Wehby, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association Evelyn Smith, and well-known financial analyst Ralston Hyman to assist him in increasing linkages between tourism and the manufacturing, agriculture, entertainment and transportation sectors.

Commenting on the meeting, JMA President Brian Pengelley said the discussions were held in an atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration.

“The objective was first of all to get into the conversation as to how we can all improve on doing more business together in the best interest of Jamaican companies,” Pengelley said. (Observer)

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