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Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill (second right) is joined by president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Nicola Madden-Greig (centre), in greeting participants in the first-ever Tourism Linkages Speed Networking event, staged on Wednesday, January 21 at the Half Moon Conference Centre in Montego Bay. Pictured from left are: general manager, Grand Lido Negril Resort & Spa, Enrico Pezzoli; purchasing manager, Blue Diamond Hotels &Resorts, operators of Royalton White Sands, Jesus Leon; and Logistics & Sales Coordinator, GK Foods & Services, Melva Campbell. - Contributed

Tourism Linkages Speed Networking event a major success

Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill has lauded the first-ever Tourism Linkages Speed Networking Event, as a landmark venture. The event, which has been hailed as a major success, saw representatives of nearly 200 supplier and buyer companies meeting to discuss business opportunities and negotiate contracts.

Delivering the keynote address for the opening of the event at the Half Moon Conference Centre on January 21, McNeill said, "The large turnout was a gratifying demonstration of real commitment to the concept of backward and forward linkages, which we all realise can make a great contribution to the development of a truly sustainable tourism sector."

He saw the event as a vehicle for local suppliers of goods and services to open the eyes of purchasers, and the public in general, to the wide variety of services and fine quality products that are available in Jamaica.

Businesses offering a wide range of goods and services participated in the networking event, including suppliers of craft, toiletries and guest amenities, chemicals and cleaning products, cosmetic and spa products, furniture, bedding, food and beverage, uniforms, printing and packaging, construction, training, ICT, electrical, meat and fresh produce.

The organisation of the Speed Networking Event was spearheaded by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) and other key partners.

"We have recognised for a long time that it's not enough to bring visitors here, what we want is when they come they consume products that are produced in Jamaica so those earnings can benefit more Jamaicans, and by extension, the local economy," said Dr McNeill.

The minister also expressed the view that the collaboration and teamwork fostered by this partnership between the public and private sectors, through the ministry's Tourism Linkages Council, was a model which could be replicated throughout the society.

Creative idea

He congratulated those who worked very hard on the event, singling out the JHTA and its president, Nicola Madden-Greig, "for not only coming up with this truly creative idea, but for following through with energy, enthusiasm and efficiency."

Madden-Greig said the day marked "a historic and significant milestone for Jamaica as we continue to forge new partnerships and linkages towards strengthening and showcasing Brand Jamaica."

She said the JHTA recognised that "for us to continue to not only do well, but to truly thrive, having a positive view to change and innovate is critical to us maintaining a competitive advantage, and this must be reflected in the local products and services that are available to us in order to exceed the expectations of our clientele."

According to Madden-Greig, the venture was more than a sales event, "but also a marketing research platform where local companies seek to understand the changing needs of international products and how they can produce authentic Jamaican products and services to satisfy the increasingly discerning technology driven and savvy traveller."

Terming it a red-letter day, JMA president, Brian Pengelley, expressed appreciation to McNeill and Madden-Greig for their lead role in ensuring that the event was a success. He also had high commendations for the Tourism Linkages Hub which is housed in the ministry, the manufacturers, and the JHTA team for their exemplary work.

The other entities which partnered to host the event are Sandals Resort International, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority, Jamaica Promotions Corporation, and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation. 

 

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