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Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, on Wednesday (July 28) announced Cabinet’s approval of the Tourism Industry Refurbishment Programme (TIRP), as part of efforts to boost the sector and grow revenues.
Under the new incentive programme, tourism entities licensed by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), which are tax compliant, will be allowed a concessionary import duty rate of 10 per cent on a specified list of items for the refurbishing of their properties.
Mr. Bartlett said that entities which opt to purchase locally, will be given a 15 per cent tax credit on the total value of local purchases.
Speaking during a press briefing at his office, Knutsford Boulevard, New Kingston, Mr. Bartlett said the TIRP is expected to improve the operations and competitiveness of tourism entities.
“The Caribbean and Jamaica, in particular, have over time had products that are mature products and, in our business, the growth in tourism and the constant improvement has been so rapid that unless you are continuously improving and refreshing your products, you’re likely to be left behind,” he argued.
He said that his Ministry fully recognised that hotel property has to be “perpetually fresh and crisp” to be competitive in today’s market.
With tourism being one of the island’s leading growth sectors, the introduction of the TIRP is expected to encourage entities to refurbish their properties more often, creating more employment and revenues for the Government. It will also enhance the linkages between the industry and the local manufacturing and furnishing sector.
This is an important improvement because it allows small properties, in particular, to come into the mix of beneficiaries, he stated.
“This is also an incentive to grow, to expand, to produce more and we have already on the cards, some US$151 million of expansion programmes to be implemented,” he noted.
The Minister said that the immediate benefits of the new policy are to create jobs, create revenue and to enable greater economic activity within the sector.
“This is a dollar retention mechanism, so that more and more of the tourism dollar can remain in Jamaica, providing more jobs, providing more opportunities for the people of the country,” he said.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Wayne Cummings, said the initiative is a tremendous effort on the part of the Government to improve the sector.
“The refurbishing incentive that has been agreed on by the Government is cutting edge, at best. For many years, we have indicated that it is one thing to build a hotel, but it is another thing to keep that hotel, in a state that keeps it competitive,” Mr. Cummings said.
The JHTA president said the organisation fully endorsed the new incentive programme, and believe it is going to be the kind that people, who are looking to invest in Jamaica, will see as very positive.
The entities involved in the TIRP will be required to pay the applicable General Consumption Tax, Bureau of Standards fee, Environmental Levy and Customs User fee.
TIRP will be available to hotels, villas, guest houses and apartments, attractions and water sports operators, which have been in operation for at least five years. The offer is only available to tourism entities and does not extend to importers and suppliers. Tourism entities currently enjoying benefits under similar programmes will not be eligible.
Before accessing the new facility, which is being administered jointly by the Ministries of Tourism and Finance and Public Service, tourism entities will be required to submit copies of valid JTB license, Tax Compliance Certificate, detailed refurbishment/retooling plan and a detailed Bill of Quantity from a commissioned and tax compliant quantity surveyor.

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