In the seven years that the Tourism Linkages Network (TLN) has existed, local producers of goods and services for the tourism industry have raised $700 million through its Speed Networking event, says Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.
The event was created in 2016 to link buyers with suppliers, promoting not only the consumption of local products, but also the economy.
Underscoring the importance of the event, Bartlett told the 110 registered vendors and more than 50 buyers who attended the Montego Bay Convention Center on Thursday that the money generated did not come from big players.
“It’s the little people who sell condiments, arts and crafts, and the little basic things that add value in a hotel situation that enhances the appearance and allows the tourist to take a little piece of Jamaica’s treasures in their suitcase. back home,” said the Minister of Tourism.
For the second day, Bartlett used his platform to remind industry stakeholders that the business environment was different than it was in 2019, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought the sector to a standstill.
“In the last six months or so there has been a resurgence and this return to activity is being challenged by a lack of resources coming from the hiatus period,” he noted.
He urged participants to capitalize on the opportunities created by the global trade slowdown and produce as much as they can locally.
He was not alone in his requests, as both the president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association (JHTA), Clifton Reader, and the president of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), John Mahfood, agreed.
Both men underscored the value of the Speed Networking event, with Reader stating that with over 350,000 JHTA members and associates, there was a deliberate move to link tourism partners to ensure retention of the tourism dollar.
“It makes no sense when we announce that tourism earns billions, but the main question is always: ‘What is the multiplier effect?’ and second, ‘What is being held back in our local communities?’” Reader argued.
The reader emphasized how critical building a sustainable tourism sector was to the development and enrichment of the Jamaican people.
While Mahfood spoke of product quality, he noted that other business sectors in Jamaica could learn from the sector, in terms of developing products that are the best in the world and offer the best customer service.
Always betting on locally produced produce, Mahfood cited TLN Speed Networking as a means of reducing over-reliance on imported food, stating that the key problem was importing too much.
He said it was time to tap into local manufacturers and help bridge the production gap, adding that a sense of balance needed to be struck between the level of imports and experts.
“The Tourism Linkages Speed Networking event characterizes a movement towards the ideal of local support; this event provides a gateway for Jamaican businesses to not only showcase their products and services, but more importantly, develop partnerships with potential buyers that will help enhance their business prospects for years to come,” he said. the president of JMEA.