Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, has announced plans for the establishment of a five-year strategic programme, to guide how Jamaica’s tourism product is funded.
Making his contribution to the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in Gordon House on July 3, the Minister informed that he has charged the new Chairman and new Board of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) with this task, which will involve partnership with other agencies.
“This programme must be developed through a collaborative effort involving the Ministry and its agencies, the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), the Resort Boards and other stakeholder groups,” he said.
Dr. McNeill emphasised that the development of the programme is critical, as while the TEF must fund a number of smaller projects that fall within its mandate, it must also take on a more long term developmental approach to the funding of the country’s tourism product.
“Another area that the TEF must also focus on, working along with other agencies such as Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) and with the private sector, is to facilitate the creation of a platform for public/private partnerships. These can be used for ongoing developments and future investments to be taken on by the private sector in the industry,” he said.
Pointing to a number of plans that have been undertaken for the development of the tourism product, such as the Comprehensive Resort Upgrading Programme and South Coast Development plan, the Minister said the intention is to develop one action plan, “where we can determine and prioritise the activities to be undertaken in the various areas that will make a difference to our tourism industry."
In the meantime, Dr. McNeill said the Government will continue to work on a number of other projects. “As indicated earlier this year, we initiated a project for $203 million which was a programme with 71 projects spread across the length and breadth of the island. Some of these projects are continuing from the previous administration as well as a number of new ones we have added,” he said.
The Minister noted that those projects, which involve Hollywell (nature park), Hope Zoo, the rehabilitation of Holland Bamboo and a new phase of the rehabilitation of Montego Bay Civic Centre, are indicative “of the types of ventures we are implementing to enhance our product."
He further informed that the Government intends to allocate $1.7 billion to be spent on project enhancement programmes, including an additional $700 million to be spent on Tourism Improvement Projects (TIPS).
“These projects, being very labour intensive, as is the nature of the tourism sector, fall within the general fabric of the philosophy of this government to provide emergency employment for the people of Jamaica,” the Minister said, adding that it is anticipated that some 2,000 persons will be employed under the programme.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter