$10 Million Grant to Fund Entrepreneurship Drive in Tourism


The Ministry of Industry and Tourism has set aside a $10 million grant to assist with funding of the Tourism for Prosperity Entrepreneurship Drive, which is aimed at encouraging more Jamaicans to take advantage of the business opportunities within the sector.
State Minister in the Ministry, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, made the announcement at the launch recently, at the offices of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) in Kingston.
The programme, to be spearheaded by TPDCo, will provide assistance to individuals and corporations to transform innovative ideas into viable income-generating projects.
Speaking at the launch, Chairman of TPDCo, Audrey Marks-Dunstan, said the programme was seeking to get more Jamaicans involved in business activities related to tourism, to help generate income for themselves and advance the process of diversifying the island’s tourism product.
“In essence, we want a wider spend of the tourism dollar to have a more broad-based economic impact. As we build a more diverse product, we must ensure that more Jamaicans reap the benefits of the sector by vigorously pursuing a system of inclusion and participating in the sector, in keeping with the major goals of the Tourism Master Plan,” she noted.
The end result, she said, must see more visitors coming to the island who want to spend more, while on the other hand, provide more Jamaicans with a path to prosperity. Mrs. Marks-Dunstan said the launch was an indication that TPDCo had become very focused in playing a key role in bringing awareness to the importance of the sector and how we can all participate in it.
She pointed out that TPDCo would play the role of facilitator in terms of product diversification and enhancement, while actively working with the sector to address its needs and forge partnerships in the industry.
“As you are aware, Government sets policies and creates the enabling environment, but the ideas must flow from the people. TPDCo as facilitator will need persons with ideas and the passion to see them through to make it a reality,” she said.
The Chairman pointed out that while agencies, such as Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), have been doing a good job of attracting foreign investors, there was a gap which needed to be filled locally with Jamaicans who have innovative ideas, but were sometimes unaware of the necessary steps to transform them into reality.
She said that the principle of inclusion and participation outlined in the Tourism Master Plan had a vote of confidence for Jamaicans, who were, by all accounts, natural entrepreneurs.
The Chairman further noted that although there were currently over 270,000 Jamaicans employed to tourism, there was a huge untapped potential for entrepreneurship and the agency would be seeking to get people involved at all levels.
“We will try to get more persons involved through attractive tax incentives, duty waivers and concessions, presently offered through the Ministry of Industry and Tourism for businesses, including attractions, hotels, car rentals and tour operations,” she said.
TPDCo will be partnering with agencies such as the Jamaica Business Development Centre and the Micro-Investment Development Agency to provide assistance in areas, including the assessment of the viability of projects from concept to market; advice on funding; training for prospective employees in resort skills; and guidance in business planning and development.
Also speaking at the launch, Industry and Tourism Minister, Aloun Ndombet-Assamba said the Ministry believed that the Tourism Entrepreneurship Drive could start a tidal wave of progress that would stimulate growth in the entire economy.
“It is the growth of our small and medium sized businesses, more than any other economic factor, that will help solve our problems of poverty and unemployment,” she added.
Encouraging individuals to participate in the programme, the Minister said the Drive would see more individuals and communities reaping economic benefits from the world’s interest in Jamaican culture, natural environment and the global demand for the exquisite things that were uniquely Jamaican.

JIS Social