Gastronomy tourism to be featured at UNWTO conference

Tourism interests and restaurant owners in western Jamaica say that the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Government of Jamaica, World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism will be the best chance yet, for Jamaica to tap into the global $150 billion gastronomy market.

They note that not only is gastronomy tourism on the rise but, also, that culinary delights, in Jamaica, inclusive of anything “jerked,” rank among the most critically acclaimed cuisine in the world.

“Many persons in the restaurant business are happy that there will be a conference (UNWTO) of this importance here on our shores,” William Black, manager of Sky Beach Seafood Bar and Grill in Hanover, said.

He went on to explain that, “jerk is one of the more popular cuisines in the world and nobody does it better than us in Jamaica. I know our gastronomic delights will have a platform at the conference and the attendant publicity will be more than we would be able to afford. Everyone will want to sample and talk about our good old Jamaican cuisine.”

Delano Seiveright, chief strategist and advisor to tourism minister Edmund Bartlett, said, “the potential for gastronomy is such that the minister has introduced the framework to develop ‘gastronomy tourism’ locally.

“The minister has appointed a gastronomy network, which falls under the aegis of the tourism linkages network, to develop initiatives to strengthen the country’s competitiveness in gastronomy tourism, as we diversify our product to generate higher growth rates in both visitor arrivals and earnings,” Seiveright explained.

He noted, “Jamaican cuisine, Jamaican rum and Jamaican music are all critical ingredients in the building out of this gastronomy experience,” noting, “This is the value-added side of tourism, hence we must take it seriously.”

However, for Jason Russell, senior director of one of Montego Bay’s most popular eateries, Pier One, “Jamaica is fortunate to be blessed with culinary delights born out of the rich diversity of our heritage.”

He pointed out, that, “the make-up of our culture has created a melting pot of gastronomic delights, which make us ideally positioned to take advantage of the growing phenomenon of gastronomy tourism.

“As we continue to see more and more persons making gastronomy a part of their travel itinerary, it is important that we continue to stay on top of our game, preparing the quality food that will boost arrivals and grow the economy.”

For his part, Bartlett, said that as a segment of a strategic marketing strategy, the ministry will be creating a gastronomy-mapping platform, with easily accessible information on the island’s best food offerings.

“We will also collaborate with tourism partners to boost the number of quality food festivals,” Minister Bartlett emphasised. “As such, we will work with tour operators to develop enticing food tours across the length and breadth of the country. We will also integrate food experiences with flagship events.”

The Minister said he believes that, “these efforts will assist in positioning Jamaica as a first-class tourist and gastronomic destination and will give the visitors more reasons to spend while they are in Jamaica.”

The UNWTO Tourism Conference will be held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, November 27-29.