Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett is urging local manufacturers to capitalize on the immense benefits to be derived from linkages with the tourism sector. Speaking at the third staging of the annual ‘Christmas in July’ Exhibition held at the Jamaica Pegasus on Thursday July 27, 2017, Mr. Bartlett said the previous two stages (2015 and 2016) had resulted in contracts worth millions.
‘Christmas in July’ features producers of authentic Jamaican gift and souvenir items and is geared at boosting the economy and strengthening the bonds between tourism and other key sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and the creative industries.
Mr. Bartlett says the country can improve on its earnings from tourism through linkages. “Of every dollar spent on tourism, 30 cents stays in Jamaica, which is 10% more than other countries in the region. But we can add another 20 cents. If the food we eat is not coming from our farms, if our attractions are coming from somewhere else, if our wines are not made here, then it will be difficult. We must own the production side of tourism so the consumption can take us to wealth. Linkages happen when tourists spend the money when they come here,” he explained.
Mr. Bartlett commended the Tourism Linkages Network on staging the event, describing it as “a wonderful display of skills and craftsmanship. These items are an authentic expression of Jamaican men and women who use their hands to tell the story of our culture. Eighty percent of global tourism is driven by MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), as is the case locally. We have to build capacity for that 80% to grow.”
Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Valerie Veira reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to the development of the MSME sector. “JBDC has always recognized the significance of the gift and craft industry to economic development and they can be assured that they will always have us in their corner. We are pleased that the wind has been blowing in the right direction over the past few years. No longer is it a token thing to talk about. But we are seeing genuine support for the creativity within the sector and we believe that linkages will continuously strengthen the sector,” she said.
Miss Veira says the JBDC will continue to ensure the development of producers ‘From concept to market’ through a full gamut of business development services. “We want to ensure that we are not a country of samples, but that we are fully prepared to enter the marketplace with a full collection of products,” she added.
Approximately 120 producers registered for Christmas in July this year, 80 of which were new. In his testimonial, Andre Robb, Co-Founder of Braata Box & Company pointed out that he received one of his first major orders as a result of participating in the 2016 staging and subsequently featured in the catalogue. Based in Kingston and Galina, St. Mary, Braata Box & Company produces uniquely hand-crafted, custom wooden gift boxes. “The date of this year’s screening was a packed one for me, but there was no way I would miss this opportunity so I arrived at 7:30am to ensure I was first in line. We recognize the value of this event and would pay to participate, if asked,” he said.