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Jamaica plans to use Gastronomy Tourism to transform key cities

Jamaica plans to use Gastronomy Tourism to transform key cities

Minister Bartlett outlines island’s plans to use Gastronomy Tourism

Two of the busiest streets in two of Jamaica’s key cities could become major tourism hubs, based on the vision outlined by Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett. He also foresees the town of Buff Bay in Portland being transformed by cottage industries utilizing coffee.

Montego Bay’s St. James Street and Kingston’s Knutsford Boulevard have already taken on certain characteristics of their own but Minister Bartlett believes so much more can be done to make them appeal to the growing gastronomy or food-based tourism market.

The Minister explained his vision while addressing journalists at the first gastronomy seminar on fats and oils, hosted jointly by the Ministry’s Tourism Linkages Network and Seprod Group at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa yesterday (October 12, 2016). The event was dubbed; The Gastronomy of Fats and Oils – The Art of Choosing, Preparing and Cooking Good Food. It entailed a series of presentations by chefs and experts on how to effectively use fats and oils to further enhance culinary delights within the tourism sector.

Minister Bartlett said in the context of a development strategy, “while we talk about gastronomy in the broad sense of consumption, it is also a development tool because it gives an opportunity for infrastructural development.”

Regarding Montego Bay, he said the city had to be looked at in that way. “We need to reinvent the tourism product in Montego Bay and to create a new vista for expansion and growth.” Mr. Bartlett is adamant that for Montego Bay to grow, a new destination needs to be created. “I think that the new destination can definitely revolve around food and entertainment.”

His vision is that from City Centre, running the length of St. James Street in the heart of the commercial district to Barnett Street “is a perfect area that literally invites itself for that kind of development.” In pursuit of this initiative Mr. Bartlett said he would be having talks with the Prime Minister and his fellow Members of Parliament in the city “to see how we can move this process forward because it can redefine Montego Bay in so many ways.”

He is aware that a number of elements must come together to create this new experience and is hoping for buy-in from other stakeholders including the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Parish Council and the Urban Development Corporation.
“Where I have seen these things work well it’s a mix of commercial activity and dormitory with people living on the upper floors along the corridor and at the base there are the restaurants and shops,” he added.
Numerous examples exist in various countries on how this can be achieved but the will is needed, noted Mr. Bartlett, adding “we will get investment; investors will come in to do it.”

Regarding Kingston’s Knutsford Boulevard, this would complement Devon House which is being positioned as a major centre for gastronomy tourism. “Knutsford Boulevard right now offers itself because we have all the key hotels along the strip, and then we have high-rise buildings and a number of restaurants already on the ground floor,” noted the Tourism Minister.

He added, “it’s an opportunity for us to think it through a little deeper and to bring the stakeholders together. I can see it happening and I believe that is something that we definitely are going to be pursuing.”

Minister Bartlett then outlined that the proposal for Portland’s Buff Bay Valley takes into consideration that only 20 percent of the coffee bean it produces goes into the production of the world famous Blue Mountain brand beverage. Minister Bartlett envisages the remaining 80 percent being the raw material for a range of cottage industries.

“In other countries people use the unused portion of the coffee beans to make products such as colognes, coffee oil and even fabric.  I am excited about that because I think Buff Bay is the right place for it and it will create a new vista of hope for people and jobs and it is not only those who plant coffee or the big producers who will benefit, but the average man in the street can have the chance to benefit also,” said Minister Bartlett.

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