Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett has announced a suite of financial measures in the form of grants and loans to assists Small and Medium Tourism Enterprises (SMTEs).
The move, forms part of the government’s commitment to help small tourism businesses retool and rebound amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funding, will be provided through the Tourism Enhancement Fund; the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) project; Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ); and Export/Import (EX-IM) Bank.
Providing details on the initiatives during a digital press briefing on July 10, Mr. Bartlett said the Ministry in partnership with the World Bank, through the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), will roll out phase two of the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) project.
He noted that phase two of the REDI project will focus on supporting small and medium entrepreneurs with grants.
The Tourism Minister informed that $100 million will be allocated for personal protective equipment (PPEs), training, funding for monitoring officers, communication, manuals, technical capacity building and licensing.
“I want to make this point that we are insisting that all entities, micro, small and large must all be COVID compliant,” Mr. Bartlett stated.
He said the funds will be in the form of grants to the businesses to ensure that they are compliant with the government’s COVID-19 protocols and have the necessary equipment to protect all who visit their establishments.
Mr. Bartlett also informed that through the DBJ, SMTEs can access a voucher to partner with an approved professional business development agency, when applying for loans.
He said the DBJ will cover 70 per cent of specific service cost with vouchers ranging from $50,000 to $500,000.
“I think this is a very useful way of leveraging and creating the ability for the small enterprises to access loans,” he said.
There is also the DBJ’s Credit Enhancement Facility which will allow small and medium tourism enterprises to access up to $15 million as part of a partial loan guarantee if they don’t have enough collateral to access loans.
“I think this is a huge development,” Mr. Bartlett stated.
In addition, the TEF has continue to provide access to capital for SMTEs to build their capacity to earn more through the TEF/EX-IM Bank revolving loan facility and the Jamaica National Small Business loan facility.
“There was $1 billion that we have put in EX-IM Bank, I think we have just a little bit shy of $300 million now available there for on-lending and the small business section of the Jamaica National they have a little over a $100 million at the moment, so we are looking in the region of nearly $500 million available here,” he said.
The Tourism Minister further informed that the Government is injecting $1.2 billion into businesses operating in tourism and related sectors which will now be administered through the EX-IM Bank.
Mr. Bartlett explained that the initiatives form part of the Government’s commitment to supporting the recovery of the sector.
“Now is the time for adaptivity and agility as the world tries to anchor itself amidst the COVID-19 crisis. We will need to apply new perspectives, new types of engagement and support, so destination Jamaica remains viable and top of mind when the industry is once again booming,” he said.
He said Jamaica’s economy is heavily dependent on the tourism industry, as it contributes to 50 per cent of the foreign exchange earned and generates 354,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs.