Conference explores stronger links between the island’s tourism and agriculture sectors, amid ministry call for hoteliers to set up food banks for the vulnerable.
MONTEGO BAY, ST. JAMES – As Jamaica’s tourism industry grapples for a comeback, a small consortium of hotels explored strategic opportunities to build back better as part of COVID-recovery plans. These included Hilton Rose Hall, Iberostar, Royalton Resorts, Sandals, Melia Braco, Island Outpost, Half Moon Resort and other hotel brands on the island’s north coast. The discussions occurred as part of the 2021 Food Waste Conference held recently at the Half Moon Resort in Rose Hall, Montego Bay.
The conference was organized by CaribShare, a Jamaican non-profit championing organic recycling in the island’s tourism sector, and The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) based out of Washington DC, US. The virtual and in-person event covered issues of food waste recycling, opportunities for reduced hotel reliance on food imports and the need for more robust local sourcing and farm-to-table strategies moving forward.
“There is a need for stronger linkages between the agriculture and tourism sectors and so, we are taking steps to have more direct supply chain links between our farmers and the hotels,” said the Honorable Floyd Green MP, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, who also spoke at the event.
“This conference occurred at an opportune time where food security is, now more than ever, a top priority that is being approached as a collaborative effort. We have to tackle the issue of food waste together and so, our hotels should explore establishing food banks with their excess food for our most vulnerable, as well as composting.” The United Nations Development Program in Jamaica praised the push for collaboration in the interest of food security on its social media.
“COVID-19 has had a huge impact on hotels, tourism, and food systems globally. Recovery will require businesses to be even more efficient. By taking steps to measure and prevent food waste, businesses can save money, reroute food to communities in need, and work to see that unavoidable food waste doesn’t go to landfill where it creates methane emissions,” said Pete Pearson, Senior Director, Food Loss and Waste at World Wildlife Fund. “The food waste program at Montego Bay showcases how the hotel industry can reshape the future of sustainable and waste-free food service, while still offering guests a luxury experience.”
With several participating hotels operating at 10%-30% occupancy, conversations around sustainable food waste management come at a time when hotel operators are eager to create greater local economic and environmentally sustainable impacts as well as linkages with the island’s agriculture and fisheries sectors. Meanwhile, new COVID-19 travel bans imposed by major tourism source markets, Canada and the United Kingdom, are expected to have a damaging effect on Jamaica’s winter and possibly summer tourist season recovery prospects according to recent statements from Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.
Senior Director of Policy for Jamaica’s Ministry of Tourism, Kerry Chambers, a guest panelist at the live student mentorship session which took place as part of the conference said, “The Ministry intends to continue its efforts towards the sustainability of the tourism sector through the development and implementation of sustainable policies and strategies that promote economic growth, environmental protection, community inclusion and education at all levels.”
The 2021 Food Waste Conference was sponsored by the United States Embassy in Kingston, World Wildlife Fund US and the Half Moon Resort. The agenda showcased international as well as local presenters including representatives from World Wildlife Fund US, Tourism Cares, CREST, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort Aruba, Hilton Aruba and Winnow Solutions.
Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.
She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.