JIS News

Senator Noel Sloley has called on government to accelerate the tax reform process for the tourism industry.
He said that an appropriate tax structure must be put in place for the industry, to ensure that “it makes a fair and equitable contribution yet is able to retain enough profits to be strong, sustainable, internationally competitive, provide a world class product and can adequately compensate the workers within the hospitality industry”.
Senator Sloley, who was making his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in Gordon House on Friday (March 10), further called for special incentives for the upgrading of older properties and the creation of special loan funds to re-finance small hotels, to improve the tourism product.
Inviting local lending institutions to assist in this effort, he noted that some years ago, the Bank of Nova Scotia initiated a project targeted at small properties called the Scotia Jamaica Protection Fund, which offered loans at low interest rates with five to eight years for repayment.
Meanwhile, with more luxury properties being constructed, Senator Sloley pointed to the need for more top-end luxury vehicles to be made available to transport visitors. “We must provide concession for all transportation operators to acquire luxury vans and limousines for this increasingly important market segment,” he stated.
He said that as more rooms were developed, Jamaica must be aggressively marketed and there should be continued expansion of the sector to include more hotels, shopping facilities and attractions. He also pointed to the need for greater linkages with the wider economy, including the agricultural sector.
“We need to expand training opportunities to enable Jamaica’s hospitality workers to fill employment demands both locally and overseas,” he added.
Turning to growth figures, Senator Sloley informed that the tourism sector grew by 11.4 per cent in January and 13.9 in February, over the same months of last year.
Also, for the first two months of 2006, visitor arrival was recorded at 260,506, which reflected an almost 30,000 increase over the 231,153 arrivals for January and February of 2005.
On other maters, he urged the government to move quickly to complete the expansion of the Kingston Container Terminal and the establishment of a logistic centre, and to provide more office space for the information and communications technology industry.