Executive Director of the Jamaica Island Nutrition Network (JINN), Patricia Thompson, says gastronomy, or the art and knowledge involved in preparing good food, is essential to the local tourism industry.
She noted that tourists spend at least 50 per cent of their budget on food, and in order to experience Jamaican cuisine, they must spend time outside of the hotels.
“If they are to experience our gastronomy, it means that our local culture, which is outside of the hotel, has to become more important,” she said.
Mrs. Thompson, a nutritionist, was speaking to JIS News at a symposium on ‘Nutrition in Gastronomy and Tourism’ at The Mico University College in Kingston on May 10.
The objective of the symposium was to promote the use of local Jamaican foods with preparation methods that reduce any health and nutrition concerns of visitors and locals about Jamaican foods being too oily, salty and sugary.
Mrs. Thompson explained that there are three strategies to be utilised in the promotion of food that could be utilised locally.
“The first thing to do is Americanise your product; second, tap into this wave of wellness and adapt our products to that; and the third is to tap into this wave of exotic eating through the diaspora influence,” she said.
Jamaica, in recent times, has been placing emphasis on gastronomy, with the establishment of Devon House in St. Andrew as the island’s first gastronomy centre.
To be outfitted with a self-service kitchen, farmers’ market and food shops, the Devon House experience will enable visitors to cook their own meals after purchasing produce, meats and condiments from the market to be located in proximity to the kitchen.
The aim is to establish Jamaica as a prime gastronomy destination, which will place it among popular culinary tourism destinations such as Brazil, China and India.