The Ministry of Tourism is in discussions with Jamaica National Group Ltd. and the National Export-Import (EX-IM) Bank, to provide funding to enable small and medium tourism enterprises (SMTEs) to secure COVID-19 personal protective equipment.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, said combined, both institutions have more than half a billion dollars available to lend to these businesses.
“The Tourism Enhancement Fund had put $1 billion with the EX-IM bank for the purpose of supporting and enabling SMTEs to get affordable credit. The remnant of that is about $389 million that is there now, along with $200 million that we have at Jamaica National,” Mr. Bartlett said.
“We are putting them together… to allow for our small and medium tourism enterprises to have an opportunity to be able to access and to purchase COVID security equipment,” he added.
The Minister was making his contribution to the 2020/21 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 24.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bartlett said the Ministry’s focus has not only been on safety and security but also the financial health of the sector, to assist tourism workers and businesses and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including grants through the COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) programme.
“Let me take a moment to commend Finance Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, for implementing this very innovative support programme for the many thousands of dislocated workers across the country,” he said.
The CARE programme had four elements: Business Employee Support and Transfer of Cash (BEST Cash) – which provided temporary cash transfers to businesses in targeted sectors based on the number of workers they keep employed; Supporting Employees with Transfer of Cash (SET Cash) – which provided temporary cash transfers to individuals, where it can be verified that they lost their employment since March 10 (the date of the first COVID-19 case in Jamaica) due to the pandemic; a special soft loan fund to assist individuals and businesses that have been hard hit; and supporting the poor and vulnerable with special COVID-19 related grants.
In addition, the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service will be providing $1.2 billion in COVID-19 Tourism Grants to support smaller operators in the tourism and related sectors, inclusive of hotels, attractions and tours that are registered with the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo).