Tourism will not be a plan­ta­tion – Bartlett

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Janet Sil­vera Se­nior Gleaner Writer janet.sil­vera@glean­erjm.com

WESTERN BU­REAU: A GOV­ERN­MENT min­is­ter has sought to as­sure Small and Medium Tourism En­ter­prises (SMTEs) that the lu­cra­tive in­dus­try they are in­volved in will not be a plan­ta­tion.

“Tourism will be an in­dus­try owned by our peo­ple,” Min­is­ter of Tourism Ed­mund Bartlett told stake­hold­ers at the sign­ing of a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing for a new loan pro­gramme be­ing co­or­di­nated by the EXIM Bank, giv­ing SMTEs ac­cess to $1 bil­lion funded by the Tourism En­hance­ment Fund (TEF).

Bartlett’s as­sur­ance could not have been clearer, ow­ing to the fact that this lat­est roll-out is in keep­ing with the min­istry’s Na­tional Com­mu­nity Tourism Pol­icy and Strat­egy, aimed at de­vel­op­ing and di­ver­si­fy­ing the lo­cal tourism prod­uct is­land­wide.

The idea of pro­vid­ing bank­ing sup­port for tourism stake­hold­ers and those want­ing to en­ter the in­dus­try comes against the back­ground of play­ers in the sec­tor ex­pe­ri­enc­ing se­ri­ous chal­lenges in ac­cess­ing cap­i­tal, ex­plained the tourism min­is­ter.

HIGH-LEVEL LEAK­AGE

“This is cou­pled with the ex­is­tence of a high level of leak­age of the tourism dol­lar, a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of which goes back over­seas,” he pointed out, adding that in light of this, there is a need for more lo­cal stake­hold­ers to be able to join the tourism value chain.

“Pro­vid­ing ac­cess to cap­i­tal is one of the keys to un­lock­ing the true po­ten­tial of our small busi­nesses, which will en­able them Ed­mund Bartlett

to up­grade and be­come more pro­duc­tive,” he ar­gued.

Ini­tia­tives like this new loan pro­gramme, he stated, are geared to­wards fos­ter­ing the devel­op­ment of a more in­clu­sive, qual­ity and ser­vice-ori­ented in­dus­try that not only ben­e­fits vis­i­tors to the is­land, but Ja­maicans too.

Loans will be of­fered to providers in the sub­sec­tors of health and well­ness, knowl­edge, shop­ping, and sport and en­ter­tain­ment, which fall un­der the five net­works which un­der­pin the min­is­ter’s five pil­lars of growth.

Op­er­a­tors of SMTEs will be able to ac­cess up $25 mil­lion at five per cent in­ter­est over five years.

Chair­man of the TEF, God­frey Dyer, ad­dress­ing stake­hold­ers dur­ing the sign­ing, said a clear growth strat­egy has been laid out by Bartlett and his or­gan­i­sa­tion’s role was now to ful­fil that man­date.

“Small and medium-sized en­ter­prises are crit­i­cal to this cause,” he stated.

A for­mer small hote­lier, Dyer said he is sorry the TEF was not around in those early days when he and sev­eral other play­ers were strug­gling to stay afloat.

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