Produce more locally to meet tourism sector's demand - Bartlett
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett is urging local manufacturers to boost local production to meet the growing demand of the island's vibrant tourism sector. The minister issued the charge as he outlined the findings of the Tourism Linkages Network's Tourism Demand Study to members of the manufacturing industry at the Duke Street offices of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA).
The study indicates that the annual leakage, due to imports, amounts to $65.4 billion in the manufacturing sector. The study also reveals that there is a gap of some $41 billion of unfulfilled demand for select manufactured items as only $24 billion in demand is now being met locally. The categories of items which contribute most to this gap are apparel, accessories, textiles, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and office stationery.
Bartlett, who also discussed the findings with agricultural purveyors recently, stated that the study was an important tool for restructuring the tourism industry in a way that ensures maximum returns from our visitor arrivals.
"$65 billion represents nearly 10 per cent of our GDP. It means, therefore, that if Jamaica's production levels enable the satisfaction of these tourism demands, we can grow GDP by 10 per cent. A growth of that nature immediately brings down your debt-to-GDP ratio. This will have enormous potential for fiscal space to deal with capital expenditure for infrastructure and growth," said Bartlett.
"Making this information available to you is important because it indicates the size of the market that is now open to you. It tells you that there is scope for investments in producing these items because there is a demand. It informs our capital market to enable lending to take place for raw material and equipment that will be needed to manufacture these items," he added.
JMA President Metry Seaga shared that the JMA is happy to partner with the Ministry of Tourism to ensure that the goals outlined by the minister can be met.
"We at the JMA are fully aligned to be a part of the solution and to work with you to make sure that these positive predictions turn into reality so that we, as a country, can continue to grow. We know that in order for us to get the right policies in place, the JMA has to be at the table from very early. So we offer ourselves completely to you and your team," Seaga said.
The findings of the study were officially released to the public on February 2 and can be accessed on the Ministry of Tourism's website, www.mot.gov.jm.