Gov’t Rolling out $100M Programme for Small Tourism Operators

Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmond Bartlett, says the Government is rolling out a $100 million grant programme, among other initiatives, to reposition small operators in the industry.

The Minister, who was addressing the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association’s (JHTA) 59th annual general meeting on Friday (September 18), said the provision is being channeled through the National Export-Import Bank of Jamaica (EX-IM Bank).

He informed that the Bank is administering a grant support programme of $1.2 billion to assist tourism-related businesses with capacity building, among other coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic recovery efforts, as the sector prepares for the upcoming winter tourist season.

Mr. Bartlett also advised that small investors in tourism can access loans, ranging between $5 million to $25 million at four per cent interest and payable over seven years, among other provisions, through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).

He indicated that the TEF is collaborating with other industry stakeholders to create programmes and resilience initiatives, geared toward “helping our small and medium enterprises to retool and rebound from COVID-19”.

Mr. Bartlett said the agency will be providing 500 tourism protective kits, at a cost over $15 million, to small businesses in the industry to safeguard frontline workers and visitors, while meeting the health safety guidelines of his Ministry, and the Ministry of Health and Wellness. 

“We are committed to all layers within the industry, and we are going to be developing an aggressive programme with our Minister of Finance and the rest of the team, to safeguard the wellbeing of the industry, as we recover,” he further stated.

The Minister said the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have brought the tourism sector together in a way not previously experienced, adding that this partnership must remain in place, for the recovery and repositioning of tourism.