Jamaica Minister of Tourism made an announcement at the 8th annual Speed Networking event, hosted at Montego Bay Convention Centre.
Jamaica Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, shared on March 16 at the event that since 2016, small business owners have earned approximately $653 million from participating in the Ministry of Tourism’s Speed Networking events.
“When you consider that since 2016, excluding the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, tourism suppliers earned some $653 million from participating in Speed Networking events, it can reasonably be argued that over the eight years of its existence, close to a billion dollars in goods and services have been traded right here and the money stays here because our sellers are all Jamaican producers, many of them striving to be small and medium tourism entrepreneurs,” said Minister Bartlett.
Speed Networking is a business-to-business event that allows small suppliers to have short meetings with buyers at major hotels and attractions. It has become one of the highly anticipated calendar events created by the Tourism Linkages Network, a department of the Tourism Enhancement Fund, in a continued bid to strengthen linkages and increase business between the tourism industry and local suppliers of goods and services from other sectors.
“Tourism has never before been as inclusive as it is today.”
“Since COVID-19, even the salaries paid throughout the sector have seen at least a 20% increase at every level. When the industry grows, everybody gets a chance. We are in a growth cycle, not a recovery. We are nearly 5% over 2019 for the year so far. So we are growing. With growth, you will see the benefits.,” said Bartlett.
“The numbers speak for themselves, as 95 percent of tourism suppliers have participated twice or more previously, signaling a high return rate for the event. Take last year, for instance, when a total of 174 sellers and buyers interacted in the space: 94 percent of hotels surveyed as tourism buyers said they were satisfied with the products presented to them. Equally, 93.9 percent of tourism suppliers reported receiving business leads as a result of participating in the Speed Networking Event,” he added.
Speed Networking is led by the Tourism Linkages Network, which is a division of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF); in collaboration with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA); Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA); Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO); Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC). This year, nearly 150 participants registered, representing tourism entities, suppliers and HR Managers.