Small and Medium-Sized Tourism Enterprises Loan Scheme a Success

Photo: Michael Sloley : Managing Director of the National Export-Import Bank of Jamaica (EXIM Bank), Lisa Bell (centre), listens to a question during a panel discussion on Monday’s (November 27) opening day of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Global Conference at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James. Others (from left) are tourism blogger, Noelle Nichols and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Altamont Hotels, Christopher Jarrett.

Story Highlights

  • The National Export-Import Bank of Jamaica (EXIM Bank) is reporting that its small and medium-sized tourism enterprises (SMTEs) loan scheme has been a success with strong take-up by players in the sector.
  • Among those eligible are operators involved in spa and wellness, gastronomy – restaurants and food-related businesses, small accommodations, shopping and galleries, attractions, knowledge networks, sports and entertainment, as well as manufacturers and suppliers.
  • Mrs. Bell was speaking to JIS News after a panel discussion on SMTEs and the future, during Monday’s (November 27) opening day of the three-day United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Global Conference at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James.

The National Export-Import Bank of Jamaica (EXIM Bank) is reporting that its small and medium-sized tourism enterprises (SMTEs) loan scheme has been a success with strong take-up by players in the sector.

The $1-billion facility, launched last September through financing from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), enables industry stakeholders to access between $5 million and $25 million to upgrade and improve their operations, at five per cent interest for five years.

Among those eligible are operators involved in spa and wellness, gastronomy – restaurants and food-related businesses, small accommodations, shopping and galleries, attractions, knowledge networks, sports and entertainment, as well as manufacturers and suppliers.

Managing Director of the EXIM Bank, Lisa Bell, said that persons have been applying, and by “next year this time, the $1 billion would have been fully disbursed”.

“I believe this particular (loan) facility proves that there is a need for financing, that there is a need for special attention on certain sectors, and if you create the appropriate structure, we will really begin to see positive results from the companies,” she added.

Mrs. Bell was speaking to JIS News after a panel discussion on SMTEs and the future, during Monday’s (November 27) opening day of the three-day United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Global Conference at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James.

Mrs. Bell attributes the success of the loan facility to, among other things, the ease in the requirements for SMTEs to access the funds.

“SMTEs face a number of issues in their ability to access financing, such as the provision of audited financial statements. We look at different kinds of programmes that would enable us to assess (their) financial capabilities,” she noted.

These include examining bank statements and loan receivables and payables, among other things.

Loan applicants must prove that they provide goods/services to the tourism sector and that 25 per cent of their revenues are generated from services to the sector.

Additionally, they must demonstrate that loan funds will enable their operations to contribute to the expansion of local tourism and generate economic growth and sustainable development.

Meanwhile, Project Manager of the Tourism Linkages Network, Carolyn McDonald-Riley, who was part of the panel discussion, noted that increased focus is being placed on gastronomy tourism.

She noted that as part of the Ministry’s push, a coffee festival will be held in March next year, which is expected to “bring in large investors to examine the coffee industry (and) to purchase coffee”.

The Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival will include activities such as training and development seminars for coffee farmers, coffee farm and factory tours, culinary tours and experiences, and a coffee exhibition.

There is currently a Jamaica Blue Mountain Tour, which features 15 participating eateries and attractions, such as Café Blue, The Gap Café, RafJam Bed and Breakfast, and the Old Tavern Coffee Estate, with more expected to come on board.

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