Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the Government is rolling out a $100 million grant programme, among other initiatives, to assist small and medium operators in the industry who have been impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Minister, who was addressing the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association’s (JHTA) 59th annual general meeting on Friday (September 18), said the provision is being administered through the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) under the World Bank-funded Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI II) project, which is also targeting COVID-19 recovery efforts for agricultural sector interests.
He advised that stakeholders can access the funds to, among other things, acquire personal protective equipment and undertake technical capacity building.
Mr. Bartlett also indicated that the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) is collaborating with other industry stakeholders to create programmes and resilience initiatives, geared toward “helping our small and medium enterprises to retool and rebound from COVID-19”.
The Minister said the agency will be providing 500 tourism protective kits, at a cost over $15 million, to small businesses in the industry to safeguard frontline workers and visitors, while meeting the health and safety guidelines of his Ministry, and the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
“We are committed to all layers within the industry, and we are going to be developing an aggressive programme with our Minister of Finance and the rest of the team, to safeguard the wellbeing of the industry, as we recover,” he further stated.
Mr. Bartlett said the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have brought the tourism sector together in a way not previously experienced, adding that this partnership must remain in place for the recovery and repositioning of tourism.
“Safeguarding the economic survival of all stakeholders within the sector remains high on our agenda. We remain committed to taking bold and decisive steps to assist players within the industry who are reeling from the effects of COVID-19,” he further stated.