A Caribbean hotelier has issued a call for strengthening the hotel sector's ties to local food producers.

Barbadian hotelier Ralph Taylor said that local sourcing generates several benefits: "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 on the south coast of Barbados, asserted the other reason was economic, "because 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"

Farm-to-fork programs stimulate the wealth creation of farmers, contended Taylor who launched a number of such programs throughout his hospitality career. He added that internal linkages "also drive 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 cannot 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 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."