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Barbadian hotelier Ralph Taylor.
Barbadian hotelier Ralph Taylor.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — A Caribbean hotelier has called for strengthening the hotel sector’s ties to local food producers.

Such local linkages generate several benefits, Barbadian hotelier Ralph Taylor said.

“First, tourists want to savor the local delicacies. In fact, one of the most common complaints is the dearth of local dishes.”

Taylor, owner of The SoCo Hotel in Barbados said that the other reason was economic. “… you will have to pay a lot more to have your food imported from abroad. Besides, tourists do not want their dinners to come on the same flight as they did.”

He went on to say the use of local food “also means we can employ more local recipes and hire more local people to cook the local delicacies. Make no mistake — genuine and attractive local food is one of the major attractions for all tourists”

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Farm-to-fork programmes stimulate the wealth creation of farmers, said Taylor, who launched a number of such programmes throughout his hospitality career.

He added that such internal linkages “also drives down the operational cost of doing business by dramatically lowering food costs.”

Smaller hotels like his can lead the charge for using more local produce but he warned they could not do it alone.

“Government departments responsible for farmer sustainability, development non-profits, tourism departments and community groups all have to pitch in and work together to make such valuable agro-tourism linkages sustainable, productive and durable.”

Taylor asserted that sustainable and protected local agriculture means “after major storms and floods, hotels can stay open for business if they are sourcing local food from sustainable food growers using farming techniques which protect their crops from extreme weather.”