Link­ages Net­work to plug multi­bil­lion-dol­lar leak­age in man­u­fac­tur­ing, agri­cul­ture sec­tors

Jamaica Gleaner - - HOSPITALITY JAMAICA -

THE MIN­ISTRY of Tourism’s Link­ages Net­work has stepped up an ini­tia­tive to plug the leak­age of bil­lions of dol­lars in the man­u­fac­tur­ing and agri­cul­tural sec­tors re­sult­ing from im­ports by lo­cal tourism en­ti­ties.

A tourism de­mand study, com­mis­sioned by the Min­istry of Tourism in 2015, determined that “the an­nual leak­age due to im­ports amounts to $65.5 bil­lion in the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor and be­tween $1.6 bil­lion and $5 bil­lion in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor”.

The study con­cluded that “the prospect for im­port sub­sti­tu­tion is great as there ex­ists a high level of re­cep­tiv­ity among tourism sec­tor stake­hold­ers to lo­cal goods and ser­vices”. It fur­ther posits that “this re­cep­tiv­ity could be con­verted to busi­ness op­por­tu­nity as the pro­jected de­mand for agri­cul­tural and man­u­fac­tured goods in­di­cates that there is tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity for trade that could be as high as $56.7 bil­lion an­nu­ally for pro­cessed foods alone, $5.3 bil­lion for fruits, and $1.6 bil­lion for veg­eta­bles”.

The de­mand study also iden­ti­fied con­straints ham­per­ing the strength­en­ing of tourism link­ages with the do­mes­tic econ­omy, in­clud­ing the abil­ity of the agri­cul­tural sec­tor to sup­ply large and con­sis­tent quan­ti­ties of good-qual­ity prod­ucts.

In­ad­e­quate sup­port for the pro­mo­tion of lo­cally man­u­fac­tured goods to for­eign in­vestors in the tourism sec­tor was iden­ti­fied as one of the main ob­sta­cles for the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor. The need was also seen for im­proved com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween buy­ers and sell­ers in re­la­tion to prod­uct avail­abil­ity and prices.

In a con­certed ef­fort to over­come these ob­sta­cles, the Link­ages Net­work brought stake­hold­ers in man­u­fac­tur­ing and agri­cul­ture face to face with pur­chas­ing man­agers in the tourism sec­tor. They met at the Mon­tego Bay Con­ven­tion Cen­tre on Wed­nes­day, Novem­ber 9, 2016.

Jor­dan Sa­muda, who sits on an agri­cul­tural work­ing group of the Tourism Link­ages Coun­cil, which sup­ports the work of the Link­ages Net­work, chaired the round-ta­ble meet­ing. He said bridg­ing the gap and less­en­ing the leak­age was a ma­jor fo­cus. “What we’re try­ing to achieve here with the pur­chas­ing man­agers is get­ting down to the folks who are on the ground day to day, see­ing the chal­lenges that face them with sup­plies,” he said.

DATA­BASE IN DE­VEL­OP­MENT

Project Man­ager, Tourism Link­ages Net­work, Carolyn McDon­ald-Ri­ley, noted that a di­rec­tory of all man­u­fac­tur­ers in the coun­try was be­ing de­vel­oped with a data­base that would make it eas­ier for pur­chasers in the ho­tel sec­tor to iden­tify and ac­cess sup­pli­ers of the prod­ucts they need. It is ex­pected that the di­rec­tory will be com­pleted by De­cem­ber of this year.

McDon­ald-Ri­ley re­minded the gath­er­ing that the Tourism Link­ages Net­work was es­tab­lished in 2013 to en­sure that tourism en­ti­ties ab­sorbed lo­cally man­u­fac­tured goods and ser­vices as much as pos­si­ble. “If that hap­pens then, the econ­omy will grow. We will cre­ate more jobs and earn much needed for­eign ex­change,” she said.

Jor­dan Sa­muda

Carolyn Ri­ley

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