Jamaica Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett yesterday revealed that his Ministry’s Tourism Linkages Speed Networking event has resulted in local Small and Medium Tourism Enterprises (SMTEs) negotiating contracts valued at over $630 million, over the past three years.
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Speaking at this year’s staging of the Speed Networking event in Montego Bay, the Minister said, “I am pleased to share that Speed Networking 2016 resulted in contracts valued at some $181 million; while the 2017 event saw suppliers benefitting from over $200 million in contracts; and in 2018, the value of these contracts grew to over $250 million. That is over $630 million in contacts for local SMTEs from just three one-day linkages events.”
He also noted that among the top beneficiaries of the event, were Boss Furniture and Tortuga Rum Cakes.
Boss Furniture won a contract valued at $30 million to provide bedding and furnishings to Montego Bay’s new S Hotel while another $10 million in contracts with that property is in the pipeline.
In addition, Boss Furniture CEO Omar Azan is also in negotiation with the Sandals and Hendrickson Groups to supply their properties with locally made bedding and furniture. Tortuga Rum Cakes also negotiated a $500,000 contract with Half Moon Hotel, from their participation in the event.
“This event is a tremendous help to local manufacturers, farmers and service providers. In creating these linkages, it helps us to grow our business, provide jobs for our people, provide revenue for the government, and in the end grow our economies. Two years ago, I attended the event and got a big order from a hotelier and it can be like that for any supplier,” said Mr Azan.
The Minister noted that the event is a key initiative designed to offer support to SMTEs and helps to strengthen the linkages between tourism and other sectors of the economy, and in so doing, increases the economic impact of the sector.
“The strategy must be to increase the capacity to supply the demands that tourism consumption patterns require and find creative ways of building entrepreneurship among our local stakeholders to fill these requirements. In this way, we will retain more of the revenue generated by tourism in the local economy and stop leakages,” he said.
The Tourism Linkages Speed Networking event took place on March 20 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. It is a core initiative of the Tourism Linkages Network in close collaboration with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Jamaica Manufacturers’ Exporters’ Association (JMEA), Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC).
The event format features fifteen minute pre-scheduled meeting appointments between Managing Directors, General Managers or CEOs of local supplier companies of products and services with Owners or Managers of properties, restaurants, attractions and other tourism entities throughout the course of one day.
Additional representatives from core areas within the hotel’s operation such as Purchasing, Food and Beverage and Maintenance who are in a position to make purchasing decisions also attend.
For this year’s staging organizers targeted suppliers from areas such as: Digital marketing, Content capture services, Maintenance providers and Entertainment. Other suppliers included areas such as furniture, fresh produce, craft, chemicals and cleaning products, cosmetics and spa products, training, electrical services and construction.
“Last year we had 56 supplier companies and 33 tourism entities in attendance. This year we have 110 supplier companies and 57 tourism entities, proof that this event is gaining traction because participants are seeing results,” said the Minister.