Jamaica’s tourism minister has sought to reassert the island’s appeal as a holiday destination by identifying opportunities for increased consumption of local goods and services.

Edmund Bartlett revealed plans to build five artisan villages in resort areas across the island – Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios and Port Antonio – over the next four years.

These facilities will provide an avenue for Jamaican artists and craftspeople to market their creativity, while limiting the volume of imported craft items that are being sold in the industry, he said.

A Craft Development Institute is to be established in the capital Kingston as part of an initiative to expand the craft industry by providing artisans with opportunities to participate in product enhancement and business development training.

“I am well aware of the perception among many Jamaicans that the tourism sector only benefits hotel owners and large businesses. This is a perception that I have set out to change,” Bartlett said.

“My ministry is repositioning the tourism sector to ensure that it supports deeper cross-sectorial linkages, attracts more local investors, stimulates small-scale entrepreneurial activities and promotes broader participation of local populations in the sector.

“We are especially committed to a vibrant and invigorated community tourism model that enriches the quality of life in Jamaican communities by returning economic, cultural, social and environmental benefits to the communities in which tourism enterprises operate.”

More food festivals are to be introduced as part of a scheme to expand gastronomy tourism in Jamaica to benefit farmers, local restaurants, distilleries and breweries, chicken vendors, cook shops and fishermen.

Barlett added: “Sports and entertainment tourism is the fastest growing segment within the travel industry today.

“We believe that our rugged outback, our steep hills and mountains, our seas and rivers, our tropical, friendly climate and our generally adventurous landscape can be harnessed to attract travellers who seek thrill, recreation and excitement.

“We are seeking to capitalise on Jamaica’s sporting excellence and internationally recognised culture as a means of generating income for small businesses and local entertainers.

“We also have plans to tap into the global $3 trillion health and wellness industry.”