Monday, 20 March 2023 11:29

Increase the tourism pie so more people can enjoy a slice - Bartlett

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Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett is appealing to stakeholders to focus on growing the sector in order to guarantee that all players generally, can benefit from the industry, and also, to temper unrealistic expectations.

Speaking at the 8th annual Speed Networking event at Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James last week, Bartlett reasoned that the sector, which has grown by five per cent above 2019, has now changed gears from recovery to growth, a situation which may attract additional players and become more competitive.

"It is one thing for us to recover, bearing in mind that recovery takes you back to ground zero. To thrive after recovery is the challenge. And some people are feeling that the recovery means that everything must happen and that recovery means that the pie is bigger. But what recovery means is that you have a pie and the pie is there. But what recovery brings a lot of times is more players who want a piece of the pie. So unless you expand the pie, the slices are going to get thinner and thinner, or some people will not get anything at all," said Bartlett stated.

"So rather than making great statements about the pie and who is not getting from the pie, let us begin a conversation of how to increase the pie to make the pie bigger, so that more people can enjoy a slice of the pie, or even a bigger slice," he further stated.

He said since 2016, small business owners have earned approximately $653 million from participating in the Ministry of Tourism’s Speed Networking events.

"When you consider that since 2016, excluding the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, tourism suppliers earned some $653 million from participating in Speed Networking events, it can reasonably be argued that over the eight years of its existence, close to a billion dollars in goods and services have been traded right here and the money stays here because our sellers are all Jamaican producers, many of them striving to be small and medium tourism entrepreneurs," said Bartlett.

Speed Networking is a business-to-business event that allows small suppliers to have short meetings with buyers at major hotels and attractions. It has become one of the highly anticipated calendar events created by the Tourism Linkages Network, a department of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) in a continued bid to strengthen linkages and increase business between the tourism industry and local suppliers of goods and services from other sectors.