The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has approved $700 million for projects and programmes geared at enhancing the nation’s tourism product since the start of the 2012/2013 financial year.
Acting Executive Director, Clyde Harrison, told JIS News that money has been allocated for the beautification and upgrading of major landmarks, heritage sites and resort areas, strengthening community-based tourism as well as enhancing the overall experience for visitors and locals.
Of the sum US$85,000 will be used for the upgrading of the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency’s (PICA) border management system, which will improve the movement of tourists through the airports, while $19 million has been approved for the erection of 186 signs island-wide.
"These are directional signs to resort areas, roadways and attractions,” Mr. Harrison informed, noting that $9 million of the sum has been spent to install 100 signs.
He told JIS News that another $200 million have been allocated for tourism improvement programmes, which involve “light infrastructure work and labour intensive activities across all resorts."
In addition, $51 million has been set aside for upgrades to the birth places of national heroes Norman Washington Manley and Sir Alexander Bustamante. “We are looking to work with Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) on those efforts,” Mr. Harrison said.
Another major project is Devon House Emergency Operational Assistance initiative, with $62 million approved for repair work to the roofs of the shops and the Devonshire.
Other works include rehabilitation of the Victoria Craft Market in Kingston in partnership with Urban Development Corporation (UDC) at a cost of $33 million; reconstruction of the Old Forte Heritage Park in Montego Bay at a sum of $17 million; while $10 million will go towards landscaping work along the Bogue Road in St. James.
In Mandeville, work will be carried out in the town centre at a cost of $7 million and will include beautification, signage and measures to improve security in that area.
Another $7 million has been approved for the rehabilitation of the roadways and facilities at Hollywell Park in St. Andrew, and $150 million for an overall one-year maintenance and development programme for the resort areas.
"We are also doing work on the Milk River Spa in Clarendon. This is a very unique and special area and we see value in it so we continue to lift the standards of this attraction,” Mr. Harrison told JIS News, noting that $5 million has been allocated to carry out landscaping work at the facility in order to “encourage and increase usage and traffic to the area."
The TEF, an agency of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, is mandated to undertake projects for the improvement of the country’s tourism product. It is financed through a Tourism Enhancement Fee, which is a charge to incoming airline and cruise ship passenger, of US$20 and US$2, respectively.
Projects undertaken, Mr. Harrison explained, must be self-sustainable, promote economic prosperity, increase the competitiveness of tourism, enhance resort areas, and are expected to encourage development of heritage and cultural tourism and community-based activities.
"We are making a significant contribution to the economy both by improving tourism and significantly, by developing projects to allow for local employment," Mr. Harrison stated.
All projects are screened by the TEF’s Projects Department, before being turned over to the Project Committee, which makes recommendations to the Board of Directors for final approval.