KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Ministry of Tourism is now developing formal framework to provide well needed banking support for persons who operate Small and Micro Tourism Enterprises (SMTEs). Under this agreement operators of SMTEs will be able to access up to $25 million dollars at 5 percent interest, over 5 years.
Making his contribution to the 2016/17 Sectoral Debate yesterday (June 14, 2016), the Minister of Tourism Hon. Edmund Bartlett informed that his Ministry has charged the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) to be at the forefront of this initiative. Currently TEF is in negotiations with EXIM Bank and in the process of finalizing an MOU, which will be signed in upcoming weeks.
“The idea for banking support for tourism stakeholders and potential tourism stakeholders comes against the background of our indigenous sector experiencing serious challenges and the existence of a high level of leakage of the tourism dollar, the overwhelming majority of which goes back overseas. In that vein, there is a need for more local stakeholders to be able to meet the demand from the sector,” said Minister Bartlett.
Mr Bartlett indicated that TEF has committed to providing some J$500 million to kick-start the fund which he hopes will alleviate the challenges SMTEs face in accessing financing.
The Minister also revealed, that TEF is also in dialogue with Jamaica National (JN) to concretize plans for the development of a National Community Tourism Revolving Loan Scheme. They have agreed on an MOU which will also be signed in the coming weeks. Under the arrangement Community Tourism Entities will be able to access up to $2 million dollars at 3 percent interest, for up to 5 years.
“Our initiatives are in line with this new administration’s growth agenda and are reflective of what exists in other major tourism markets, including the Dominican Republic, which has a successful model. Establishing banking support would also induce local and international financial houses to come on board and play their part,” said Mr. Bartlett.
Mr. Bartlett’s presentation was titled: “Transforming Tourism to Drive Growth and Prosperity.”