Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, says an entrepreneurial training and coaching programme to assist local farmers to better understand the tourism industry, will be introduced in the first quarter of this year.
The programme will enable the farmers to tailor their production, distribution and logistics to match the requirements of businesses in the hotel and tourism sector.
“It is really about sensitising farmers about the demand for tourism products that they can supply and also to use the applications (apps) that we are creating to access certain information that will connect them to buyers,” he said.
The minister was speaking to JIS News following the press launch of the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on January 23.
The festival will be held over three days from March 23 to 25 at a centralised location in Newcastle, the training ground of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).
Bartlett wants to see a deepening of the ties between stakeholders in the coffee and hospitality industries, and has tasked the Tourism Linkages Network in the ministry to get more coffee to every visitor to the island.
“The bottom line is, I want to see more of our visitors at our hotels, restaurants and attractions drinking Jamaican coffee, not imported brands,” the minister said.
“There is no comparison when it comes to quality, therefore when our visitors are served a cup of coffee it should be the obvious choice – Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee,” he added.
Bartlett is hoping to build a unique coffee experience for locals as well as the thousands of tourists who visit the island.
A key part of bringing more visitors to the island to experience Jamaica’s food festival is to ensure that more of the earnings from the tourism industry are retained locally.
“We will be using food festivals as a strategic marketing tool to tap into the lucrative gastronomy tourism market,” he said.
“Our rum, our seafood, our jerk and other culinary delights have put us on the world map and will be leveraged to position Jamaica as the Gastronomy Centre of the Caribbean,” the minister continued.
Meanwhile, Bartlett informed that his ministry is facilitating the development of berry farming in Jamaica to support the needs of the hoteliers for fresh high-quality berries, with the focus specifically on strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.
The minister noted that a 2017 report on the ‘Development of the Berry Industry’ is available and will be used to help bridge the demand-supply gap for these crops, reduce imports and provide opportunities for farmers.
For his part, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Karl Samuda, said the festival is of extreme significance for the marketing and branding of one of Jamaica’s finest products being offered to the world.
The minister’s remarks, which were read by Acting Director General of the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association, Gusland McCook, noted that the Government has every intention of ensuring that Jamaican coffee retains its “signature pride of place that it has commanded.”
“In this regard, the ministry welcomes the vibrant collaboration between our ministry and the Ministry of Tourism in celebrating, promoting and marketing Jamaican culinary products and in this instance, coffee,” he said.
The coffee festival is part of the ministry’s objective to foster the strategic growth of culinary tourism in Jamaica.
A key component of the festival is the coordination of an incoming buyer mission through Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) that will provide local producers of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee with access to new and existing markets.
The festival will bring together local and international coffee connoisseurs, coffee suppliers and other interested parties. The main targets are the Cayman Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, United States, United Kingdom, Europe, and Canada.
Among the festival’s features are business development workshops for farmers and a culinary trail.
Source: Jamaica Observer
Published Date: January 24th, 2018
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