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The Government is looking to develop a contingency plan designed to pilot the tourism industry’s recovery from the economic fallout sparked by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, said that this is in recognition that some of the partners and stakeholders in the sector are experiencing some “cash crunch difficulties” as a result of COVID-19.

He said the plan is intended to facilitate the provision of or access to funding “should there be any systemic COVID-19-related issues with their financial arrangements”.

The Minister was delivering the opening 2021/22 Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (April 20), under the theme ‘Building Forward Stronger: Tourism 2021 and Beyond’.

He said that consequent on the financial challenges impacting industry stakeholders, the Government recognised that “there is the need for us to look closely at how to deal with [matters such as] the credit arrangements, especially to deal with those entities that may be suffering what we call a ‘heavy drainage of cash’ as a result of the pandemic, over time”.

He noted that the contingency plan is being mapped out in tandem with players in the private sector capital market.

Minister Bartlett told the House that several financial institutions transacting business with stakeholders experiencing challenges have been “very responsive” to their plight.

“They have been forgiving debt in some instances and reducing payment requirements… principals. [Some] have foregone [interest] payments… and have been rolling over to facilitate these entities,” he indicated.

Mr. Bartlett emphasised that the tourism industry is an ecosystem “that must be ready to return to the pre-COVID-19 earnings of US$3.7 billion, which will allow us to bring back thousands of displaced workers and to build the future”.

“So… we will continue [the]… discussions [on the contingency plan] with the stakeholders and Minister of Finance and the Public Service [Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke], with the view of establishing some special vehicle to assist, if needed,” he added.

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