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Positive outcomes from Ja's Tourism Linkages Hub – Minister McNeill

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Kingston, Jamaica: July 3, 2013 – Making good on a commitment he made some six months ago to establish a Tourism Linkages Hub, Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Dr. Wykeham McNeill has announced in Parliament that “already much work has been done and much has been accomplished.”

In making his Sectoral Presentation in Parliament yesterday, Minister McNeill indicated that a Tourism Linkages Council has been named, a preliminary assessment of hoteliers’ needs has been completed and an on-line tool has been developed for use by suppliers and buyers.  Further assessment of the sector’s needs is to be initiated, said the Minister.

 The Tourism Linkages Hub’s on-line tool is plugged into databases operated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, RADA, JAMPRO, the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) and the EXIM Bank.

 “Already, reports of positive benefits are coming in from the manufacturing sector”, said the Minister.  “Just a day or two ago one manufacturer credited the Linkages Hub initiative with his success in landing an order from a large hotel operator.  Additionally discussions are in an advanced stage for the supply of furniture to a major hotel chain,” said Minister McNeill.

He told Parliament that the EXIM Bank was creating a facility for receivables financing for suppliers who provide goods and services to the hotel sector, adding, that “this will be enormously useful in reducing cost and keeping valuable capital in the suppliers’ hands without a protracted wait for payment.”

Regarding agriculture, the Minister said a study commissioned by the Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO), in 2008 estimated that total food purchases by hotels, both imported and local food, was approximately US$177 million or J$16 billion of which J$4.8 billion, or 30 percent represented local purchases. Against that background, “the mandate I have given the Linkages Council is to substantially increase this margin of local purchases.   These are areas where with economies of scale we can earn more for Jamaican businesses and retain the money here in Jamaica,” said Minister McNeill.

He expressed appreciation to the Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA), Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) and the various participating Government agencies, including Jampro and RADA, noting that “persons have come with a spirit of unity and there is great enthusiasm about the possibilities in this area.”

 The Tourism Linkages Council is chaired by Donovan Perkins, CEO, Sagicor Investments Jamaica Limited and is tasked with deepening the linkages between tourism and the rest of the economy and to stimulate further growth in those areas.

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