Published on : Monday, February 4, 2019
The Ministry of Tourism has responded to concerns raised by members of the international press about the use of imported conference memorabilia at the recent United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Government of Jamaica 2nd Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth.
“The Ministry of Tourism has consistently supported small and medium tourism suppliers through various initiatives to help them secure more business and will continue to do so. Incidentally, as is customary in businesses here and overseas, imported items form a significant portion,” the ministry noted in a media release said.
The release came following comments made by senior journalist and managing director of United Kingdom-based travel media company Travelmole, Graham McKenzie, who expressed strong disapproval during and after a press conference staged by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) last Wednesday about the use of mass-produced Chinese promotional items by the organisers of the conference instead of contracting Jamaican small businesses to manufacture the items.
McKenzie, who received backing from other colleagues, had said it should have been a top priority of the organisers to ensure that all conference memorabilia, including promotional bags, were made in the host country, Jamaica, by local entrepreneurs. He had also complained about the use of single-use plastic bags in the conference bag which also contained a Chinese-manufactured plastic water bottle. The imported conference bags were manufactured in Vietnam.
McKenzie had also said the conference organisers should have known that the conference was going to be staged from at least six or eight months ago and, as a consequence, given Jamaican manufacturers the opportunity to bid and to manufacture some of the items.
In its defence, the ministry also sought to point out that the “conference bags and items within the bags were sourced and procured through a local manufacturing company” and that the UNWTO was not a part of the procurement process.
The release added that the ministry has also established five tourism linkages networks to help create more economic opportunities for small providers of goods and services within tourism.
“Additionally, micro and small Jamaican-owned businesses continue to successfully access financing from a $1-billion revolving loan from the Tourism Enhancement Fund via the EXIM Bank, conceptualised and instituted by the ministry to strengthen and encourage local businesses,” the ministry stated.