Opportunities Untapped; Tourism Stakeholders Purchasing locally and Receptive to Buying

KINGSTON, JAMAICA, June 22, 2018

The JHTA is encouraging local entrepreneurs, agricultural interests and businesses to address some of the untapped opportunities which exist in linkages to the tourism industry.

According to the 2015 Tourism Demand Study, a project of the Ministry of Tourism: “The prospect for import substitution is great as there exists a high level of receptivity among tourism sector stakeholders to local goods and services. This could be converted to business opportunities as the projected demand for agricultural products and manufactured goods indicate that there is tremendous opportunity for trade.”

The JHTA continues to favour and actively encourage the purchase of locally produced goods.

Speaking at the recently concluded 57th Annual General Meeting, held on Saturday June 16, 2018 at the Moon Palace Jamaica in Ocho Rios, Omar Robinson, President, JHTA stated: “We are pleased with the Government’s commitment to provide $25 million per year over three years to implement a plastic bottle recycling program. This action will not only reduce the amount of plastic bottles that are disposed of improperly but it will encourage good environmental practices among all Jamaicans. We also take this opportunity to encourage all businesses across the island to replace single use plastic containers with biodegradable or reusable alternatives. Each of us have a part to play to preserve our environment and we encourage you to find more environmentally-friendly solutions to plastic cups, straws and Styrofoam.” 

General Manager of a large hotel in Ocho Rios noted that as much as 95% of the fruits and vegetables used in the hotel’s operations are purchased locally. He went on to share that the items imported include strawberries, black berries, pears, American apples and kiwis as these are unavailable locally. He also stated that strawberries are now being produced locally but they are not available in the quantity needed.

Aswad Morgan, Director of Therapedic Caribbean, which is a member of the Morgan’s Group, manufacturers of Therapedic mattresses locally shared that: “We have been able to win several large hotel contracts from a number of the leading hotel chains including RIU, Bahia Principe, Jewel Resorts, Hilton Rose Hall, Secrets, Melia Braco, Couples Resorts, Spanish Court, Half Moon and Golden Eye to name a few.” In sharing how he was able to achieve this success he noted that “key in developing strong relationships with hoteliers is satisfying the requirements for quality, price, being flexible enough to meet the quantity requirements, being able to deliver within the agreed timelines and being able to carry out business with professionalism.”

He continued that he utilized all the possible platforms for networking and tapping into the sector including the JHTA’s Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX), Speed Networking and personal selling. Tourism he shared has now become one of his largest and fastest growing client segments.

The Association notes that the purchase of locally produced items is steadily increasing and continues to encourage its members to support local businesses. The Association continues to support events and opportunities to create linkages between local businesses and its members.

Mr. Omar Robinson, President, JHTA:
“Events such as the Speed Networking which was started by the JHTA in 2015 offers an exceptional opportunity for businesses and entreprenuers to meet with the purchasing managers and general managers of hotels and attractions throughout the island. The Speed Networking event is now managed by the Tourism Linkages Network in partnership with the JHTA, Jamaica Manufacturing Association, Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and JAMPRO. The event continues to grow and create strong connections to opportunities in tourism for enterprising businesses. Christmas in July offers local artisans an opportunity to showcase their crafts for sale in the hotel gift shops. The JHTA’s Travel Trade Show Jamaica Product Exchange also allows businesses to showcase their goods and services not only to the local tourism markets but international travel partners which brings with it another layer of opportunity. We encourage persons and businesses to get involved in the sector in order to tap the opportunities present.”

Businesses also have an opportunity to increase their capacity to tap into these opportunities with facilities such as the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) financed Exim Bank Small and Medium Tourism Enterprises Loan facility offered at an interest rate of 4.5%.