He said that the Government’s target of adding 15,000 hotel rooms by 2021 presents a golden opportunity for players in the local sector.
Mr. Shaw, who was speaking to JIS News at the staging of the Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit (CHICOS) in Montego Bay recently, said that the Ministry will be taking the lead in ensuring that the hotel sector serves as a ready-made market for local produce.
He noted that the heavy reliance on imported foods is counterproductive and “doesn’t do much if anything for the local economy”.
“We must get to the point where our tourists are fed with what we produce here, locally. As I have said repeatedly, we must stop flying the food on the plane with the tourists,” he said.
“The utilisation of local produce will benefit our communities, our farmers and by extension…the entire country. For sure, there will be a reduction in the dependency of imports and, where possible, an expansion of exports,” the Minister added.
He said there is now a coordinated and deliberate approach to increase local production in order to meet the needs of the growing hotel sector.
“It must also be noted that our farmers now have the available technology to produce quality crops that can supply both local and international markets,” he pointed out.
Minister Shaw said that the agricultural sector has the ability to be a game changer for Jamaica’s economic fortunes, and expressed pleasure at the growing number of persons “getting on board the agriculture train”.
“I think people are starting to realise that agriculture is big business and that there are opportunities to be had. When our young children see what is going on… then they too can aspire to be farmers, knowing it is a noble profession and one that can also be lucrative,” he said.
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