Kingston, July 20, 2018 - The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) strongly refutes the claim that hotels only purchase a small portion of their agricultural inputs locally.
The "Tourism Demand Study" conducted by the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment in 2015, found that 69% of the responding businesses reported that less than 10% of their total expenditure on agricultural produce had been allocated to imported items during the previous year. This percentage is even higher for smaller properties who source all of their agricultural produce locally. A new demand study is now being carried out and we anticipate that the percentage for locally grown agricultural produce purchased by the industry will increase significantly.
Over the past several years the JHTA has focused on building partnerships, collaboration and business relationships with other sectors of the economy, with positive results. We continue to support a range of activities to strengthen the linkages between the tourism and agricultural sectors. In 2015 the JHTA started the Speed Networking Event which is now held annually in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, Jamaica Agricultural Society, Rural Agricultural Development Authority, Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the Jamaica Business Development Corporation and other partners. This event facilitates one-on-one meetings between the CEOs and other Decision Makers within the hotel industry and suppliers of goods and services to the Tourism Industry.
The tourism industry is a very important client for the agricultural sector, especially small farmers and we have seen where these partnerships that link tourism demand with agricultural supply result in increased revenues and profitability for these small farmers by helping them to diversify from low value commodities to high value specialty products and services. The JHTA is committed to an inclusive tourism business model which promotes stakeholder partnerships and the inclusion of local producers and service providers.
It does not stop there. The JHTA has done a great deal to ensure that local communities and the agricultural sector are integrated into the tourism value chain and our members have conducted farmer's programmes where they have channelled and created demand for local products among staff and customers, supported the supply side to deliver the quality and quantities required and established workable communication structures between supply and demand.
We sit on the Tourism Linkages Network and the Technical Working Group for Agriculture which was established to improve demand for local goods and services. We continue to do our part to strengthen the farming industry as it is clear to us all that sourcing food locally, in a way that meets commercial needs and customer tastes, is a win-win for both the agriculture and tourism sectors. We are committed to ensuring that we continue to purchase more locally produced goods and contribute to the growth of the other productive sectors of the economy".