Not the time to deviate

Not the time to deviate

Tourism Linkages Council chairman makes appeal to local buyers and producers

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

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Tourism Linkages Council Chairman Adam Stewart yesterday appealed to Jamaican purchasers of goods and services to support local industries, and encouraged producers here to keep abreast of global trends and retool to remain competitive.

Stewart, the deputy chairman of Sandals Resorts International and this newspaper, made the appeal in a statement that would most likely receive wide attention and respect — given that of the 5.4 million pounds of produce consumed at Sandals Resorts annually, 90 per cent or five million pounds is 100 per cent Jamaican, equating to over $500 million spent with local farmers.

Here is Stewart’s full statement:

Jamaica’s Tourism Linkages Council’s unwavering mandate is to realise a reduction in the purchasing gap between our fast-growing tourism industry and local purveyors.

This reduction, with a greater retention of foreign exchange to our island’s coffers, has long-standing and far-reaching benefits — leading to poverty reduction, community growth and development, and a sustainable upturn for Jamaica’s economy.

As chairman of the Tourism Linkages Council, I urge us not to lose sight of this objective, but to redouble our efforts in this regard. Numerous advances have been made over the past years, with notable successes realised.

Programmes and initiatives such as the Speed Networking project; Christmas in July initiative, an annual trade show linking tourism directly with manufacturers and corporate Jamaica; the Blue Mountain Coffee Festival; the Agri-Linkages Exchange platform, allowing tourism purchasers to connect digitally with local farmers in real time; as well as the Taste Jamaica mobile application and microsite showcasing over 500 gastronomy experiences, have considerably moved us in the right direction.

Let us not become complacent, rejoicing at these successes, however, as there is still much more to be done. Jamaica is only just turning the corner on a multitude of levels, where we genuinely feel and see this as Jamaica’s time to rise as economic leaders in the region. This is not the time to be sidetracked but to dig deeper and cement this commitment, these initiatives, and these advances as our way of life.

We must think it, believe it, and act on it even when it is not the easiest option available buying Jamaican, supporting our local suppliers, must become second nature. I make this appeal to all our purchasers, specifically but not limited to those in the tourism industry to recommit to engaging our farmers, manufacturers, artisans, and service providers. Let us work with them, provide them the opportunity to learn more about the demands of the tourism sector and how they can benefit from meeting said demands.

In the same breath, I encourage our local purveyors to rise to the occasion, monitor what is happening on the global market, seize the opportunities available to constantly retool, evolve, and remain competitive. Take advantage of low interest rates of 3 to 4.5 per cent through institutions such as the ExIm Bank as well as low rates across the wider banking sector, coupled with the availability of liquidity in the local market.

Tourism is a worldwide industry without borders, and the prospects are therefore limitless. In order to successfully compete on the global market however, there must be an unyielding commitment to operate at a standard that will not only meet, but also surpass expectations.

Our success as a nation depends on us working together for individual benefits, for the benefit of employees, our Jamaican people, our communities, and ultimately our country’s sustained economic growth. Let’s get it done!

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