Jamaica Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has outlined that the latest initiative by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), through its Tourism Linkages Network division, to host a virtual Jamaica gastronomy forum series, will aid in preparing the culinary industry for the rebound of the tourism sector, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister Bartlett lauded the initiative as he addressed the first session in the highly anticipated series recently. The forum focused on the topic: Gastronomy Tourism as part of the New Normal of Living with COVID-19.
The forum series will focus on food related topics and seeks to offer valuable information to the target audience, which includes: chefs, caterers, academia, agriculture stakeholders, restaurateurs and tour operators, with the aim of connecting the ecosystems and linking start-ups and existing businesses along the gastronomy tourism value chain.
“The presentations and information being offered to you our valued stakeholders, have been carefully packaged to prepare all of us for the way forward. As I’ve said before, it will not be business as usual and as much as our record of offering great hospitality stands, everyone is going to have to perform even better,” Bartlett expressed.
The upcoming sessions in the series will be held on March 9, focusing on: Innovation in Gastronomy – A Look into Innovative Gastronomy Businesses Across Jamaica; March 16, on the topic: Seasoning the Talent – How to Attract and Retain the Right Talent; March 19, exploring the topic: Social Media and Digital Marketing; and March 23, examining the issue: Standing Out from the Crowd: Developing a Destination Restaurant Experience.
“I have no doubt that the participants have a lot to gain over the next few weeks from this series. So, in five tightly packed sessions, you will be getting information at the highest level to refresh the minds of those who already know and open up new thinking for those who did not know,” said Minister Bartlett.
Other panelists in the first forum included Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, Director of Tourism, Donovan White and officer in the Department of Tourism Intelligence and Competitiveness at the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Michel Julian. The moderator for the session was Chair of the Gastronomy Network, Nicola Madden-Greig.
This forum series, which will air live on the social media pages of the TEF, is just one of the many initiatives being implemented by the Ministry of Tourism and its agencies, to use the downturn caused by the pandemic to enhance, diversify and reset the sector to ensure its recovery and ultimate success in the post-COVID-19 era. It was also outlined that persons who miss the live sessions can access video recordings of the discussions, which are available via the @tefjamaica YouTube and Facebook accounts.
Minister Bartlett noted that food tourism will be a critical pillar in the diversification of the industry as it seeks to rebound. “The strength of this industry is still around food. In fact 42% of expenditures of visitors internationally is on food. So, let’s get it right and build our capacity to respond to this great demand and in so doing leave behind the most delightful aspect of every experience a visitor has – the culinary genius of our people,” said Bartlett.