KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Ministry of Tourism’s efforts to increase the purchase and use of more Jamaican-made products in the tourism industry and related sectors were boosted today (Thursday July 28) with the successful second staging of ‘Christmas in July’.
The one-day trade exhibition, which was held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, saw some 110 local producers of authentic Jamaican gift and souvenir items showcasing their products and networking with corporate executives and various industry players.
This turnout in participants represented a record 33% increase from the first staging of the event in 2015, which resulted in successful contracts valued at J$1.1 million.
Christmas in July is a collaborative effort of the Ministry’s Tourism Linkages Network and its partners, the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA), and Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA).
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett commended the organizers for this accomplishment and announced that much is being done to further build on the success of the event by providing training and access to capital for artisans in the craft sector as well as Small and Micro Tourism Enterprises.
“In addition to building artisan villages across the island we are in the process of developing an Institute of Craft to further develop a competitive and productive workforce that can benefit from opportunities in the sector. We are going to be working with the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts as we build out the Institute of Craft, which I expect to be operational by 2018,” said Minister Bartlett.
“In a matter of weeks we will be signing a memorandum of understanding with the Export Import (EXIM) Bank of Jamaica, which will enable Small and Micro Tourism Enterprises (SMTEs) to access up to $25 million dollars at five percent interest, over five years,” Mr. Bartlett continued.
With growth as the declared mantra of the government, officials in attendance underscored that initiatives like Christmas in July further aid in boosting economic development.
“We know that the linkages that are established across the firms and industries here today are important to economic development. We also know that countries with strong linkages have high productivity, which leads to high GDP growth. This is what we all want in Jamaica” said Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service Hon. Fayval Williams.
Similar sentiments were shared by Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Hon. Karl Samuda who emphasized that the Tourism Linkages Network has a vital role to play in moving the country forward.
Exhibitors were also excited at the prospect of being a part of the Ministry of Tourism’s ‘Christmas in July’ event. Many expressed gratitude to interact with fellow business owners as well as the opportunity to showcase their products directly to their niche market.
“This is a great event in terms of training local producers. I achieved my objective today. I wanted to have my items in the airport stores in Montego Bay because they are already in NMIA. I met a retailer today from Sangster International that wants to sell my products. So, I accomplished my goal,” shared fashion designer Paula Herlock from Indigo Soul Jamaica.