Tourism Linkages Network Policy to Foster Growth, Ownership – Joe Issa

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Admired Ocho Rios businessman and philanthropist Joe Issa who chairs the Board of Directors of The St. Ann Development Company (SADCO), which invests heavily in tourism, is backing the proposed new tourism linkages network policy to deliver higher growth of Jamaica’s tourism and encourage increased stakeholder ownership of the sector.

Submitted: February 10, 2017

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Submitted: February 10, 2017

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Admired Ocho Rios businessman and philanthropist Joe Issa who chairs the Board of Directors of The St. Ann Development Company (SADCO), which invests heavily in tourism, is backing the proposed new tourism linkages network policy to deliver higher growth of Jamaica’s tourism and encourage increased stakeholder ownership of the sector.

 

“As the islands leading productive sector, tourism can grow much further by allowing other sectors in to earn a piece of the pie; and as more sectors come in and take responsibility for their part in selling quality goods and services to the tourism sector on a consistent and timely basis, the pie will get bigger and so will the size of their share; it’s a win-win business model for all stakeholders,” says Issa, whose own Cool Group business model is said to be similar to that of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.

IMG_0452Issa’s comments came in an interview on the heels of a move by Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett to establish a legal framework through Parliament, to enable the newly-launched Tourism Linkages Network to function as a mechanism to spur growth of the tourism and other supporting sectors of the economy.

 

“The importance of tourism to Jamaica cannot be overstated, but it can’t stand alone as, while here, visitors need to be fed, transported around, educated, cared for, their needs provided and entertained in a variety of ways.

 

“However, for the diversified tourism offerings to transform Jamaica into an ideal tourist destination, which would increase arrivals and spending and enable the country to retain a greater portion of the tourist dollar, everyone in the product and supply chain must be on the same page,” Issa says.

 

Issa adds: “One weak or broken link in the chain can make the country less than ideal to visit; that’s why it’s critical to establish a policy framework for the Tourism Linkages Network to function effectively as a watchdog for tourism linkages networks,” says Issa in the interview.

 

Minister Bartlett recently announced that five new tourism linkages networks – sports and entertainment, shopping, knowledge, health and wellness, and gastronomy – would form part of the country’s Tourism Linkages Network, “to further diversify the country’s tourism offerings, create business opportunities and increase the use of local goods and services within the tourism sector.”

 

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13493587/246301_72823_repro.jpg“We have already done the concept paper, which Cabinet has approved. We will now do the White Paper and then have the policy ready for Parliament’s approval when I make my (budget) presentation (in April 2017),” he said.

 

“Formerly the Tourism Linkages Hub, the primary goal of the Tourism Linkages Network is to ensure that Jamaica’s tourism sector becomes better integrated with other sectors, such as agriculture and manufacturing.

 

“The Tourism Linkages Network is supported by a Tourism Linkages Council, made up of public and private sector partners, who oversee the coordination and implementation of effective and sustainable strategies that strengthen and facilitate linkages,” according to the tourism ministry’s website.

 

The SADCO chairman, who oversees the management of some of the assets of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) in St. Ann, which is believed to have the most tourism plants on the island, is himself a tourism guru, having run the chain of SuperClubs hotels and bagged several local and international awards, including Young Hotelier of the World 1994 and Travel Agents Magazine’s 100 Rising Stars for four consecutive years – 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000.

 

In addition to the 600 ft hike Dunn’s River Falls, the list of SADCO assets in the parish includes the popular Green Grotto Caves, the Ocho Rios Bay Beach also known as Turtle Beach near the Cruise Ship Pier, Turtle River Park at the entrance of the town, Pearly Beach, Laughing Waters, Roaring River, Malvern Park Property, the Ocho Rios Craft Market, and some undeveloped lands, says UDC’s website.

pic%202.jpgIt said, “With a combined asset base of some $41 billion dollars, the UDC is one of the leading urban and rural development agencies in the Caribbean. Since 1968, it has sought to transform Jamaica’s most viable urban centres and strategic rural towns, whilst preserving the natural environment and spurring economic development.”

 

The Jamaican economy is well known to depend heavily on services, which last year contributed 71.6% to GDP, with Tourism and Remittances each contributing about 30% while Agriculture 7% and Industry 21.4% make up the remainder.

 

Research also shows that the economy has remained largely stagnant over the past 30 years, posting an average GDP growth rate of under 1% in the past 20 years, a situation Issa contends the current administration is trying to improve upon as it goes for 5% growth over the next four years, which the new Tourism Linkages Network policy will help to achieve.

 

Issa’s view is supported by a Nikolaos Karagiannis 2003 study: “Tourism, linkages, and economic development in Jamaica”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 15 Iss: 3, pp.184 – 187.

 

According to the study, “a production?oriented development framework for Jamaica, based on growth?promoting linkages between tourism, commodity production sectors, and complementary and related service industries, can boost the Jamaican endogenous competency and industrial competitiveness, while improving the country’s macroeconomic performance.”


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