- As the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) celebrates its 10th anniversary, it can boast of its invaluable contribution to the strengthening of the tourism sector, to the preservation of the country’s culture and heritage sites and overall support to national development.
- The TEF has expended billions of dollars on tourism projects since it began operations on May 1, 2005, in fulfilling its mandate of promoting growth and development in the tourism sector.
- The Tourism Enhancement Act allows for a Tourism Enhancement Fee of US$20 to be charged on incoming airline passengers and US$2 to be charged on cruise passengers.
As the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) celebrates its 10th anniversary, it can boast of its invaluable contribution to the strengthening of the tourism sector, to the preservation of the country’s culture and heritage sites and overall support to national development.
The TEF has expended billions of dollars on tourism projects since it began operations on May 1, 2005, in fulfilling its mandate of promoting growth and development in the tourism sector.
The Tourism Enhancement Act allows for a Tourism Enhancement Fee of US$20 to be charged on incoming airline passengers and US$2 to be charged on cruise passengers. The monies collected are paid into a dedicated fund, which finances the various tourism projects.
Speaking with JIS News, Executive Director at the TEF, Clyde Harrison, notes that the funds are primarily allocated for the beautification and upgrading of major landmarks, heritage sites and resort areas, to strengthen community-based tourism, craft development, training within the sector as well as enhancing the overall experience for visitors and locals.
“The idea behind the TEF, from its inception, was to finance the Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development through its five main tenets – sustainable market position, which gives us significant responsibility for funding many areas of our marketing; enhancing the visitor experience; community based development; environmental sustainability; and maintaining an inclusive industry,” Mr. Harrison explains.
He adds that the entity spends an estimated $2 billion each year on projects and programmes geared at enhancing the nation’s tourism product.
Giving updates on the various projects the entity has financed over the years, the Executive Director notes that approximately $200 million is allotted annually towards the general beautification and upkeep of the resort towns and surrounding areas.
“We also do maintenance of the North Coast roads; beautification of the elegant corridor in Montego Bay and now a major transformation of the Ocho Rios resort, valued at $400 million,” he tells JIS News.
This project, the Executive Director says, includes the full upgrading of the cruise ship terminal and the parking area and major reconstruction of the Turtle River Road, between the pier and Main Street.
Mr. Harrison adds that the TEF has financed rehabilitation work at the Milk River Bath in Clarendon; beautification of major parks in Black River and Mandeville, with extensive work planned for the resort town of Negril.
“We should run the length of Norman Manley Boulevard by creating a dual pathway for walking and riding with the proper ambiance, lighting and landscaping,” he outlines.
The TEF has dedicated funds toward the development and preservation of the country’s heritage sites, landmarks and cultural products, with one major project being the beautification and rehabilitation of the town of Falmouth, in Trelawny.
Mr. Harrison points out that the $900 million project involves the Hampden Wharf Development, estimated to cost $585 million; and the Falmouth Streetscape Improvement Project, budgeted for $330 million.
The scope of work includes aesthetic and structural improvement to roads and lanes in the vicinity of Water Square in the town.
“We will be looking at the actual town in terms of its authentic nature and work at maintaining its historical integrity…we will be working on the drainage system, and resurfacing areas, in order to enhance the ambiance in the town,” Mr. Harrison says.
He adds that the Hampden Wharf Development project will see historical buildings in the vicinity of the wharf being converted for commercial use, with walkways built, allowing smoother traffic flow from the wharf through the current cruise ship pier into the streets.
“We are also continuing the development of Devon House and have, over the years, spent in excess of $100 million on that project. We are still continuing to do work as we want to make it a very self-sufficient project, in order to take it off our books in terms of support,” the Executive Director says.
Other heritage projects include the resuscitation of the Old Naval hospital in Port Royal at a cost of $100 million and rehabilitation work at the birthplaces of some of the National Heroes.
Mr. Harrison informs that work was also completed at the Montego Bay Civic Centre, which included resuscitation of the entire area; conversion of the centre into a museum, with a bistro at the back; and repairs to the parking area.
Another very important aspect of TEF’s work is their support to security. The entity has allotted funds for the provision of motor bikes, a surveillance van and other vehicles at a cost of $225 million.
“We have also done marine security and have given speed boats to the Falmouth, Ocho Rios, Negril and Montego Bay resorts at a cost of $15.5 million,” he notes.
Two very popular TEF projects are the National Beach Development Programme valued at $250 million and the National Rest Stop Programme, at a cost of $70 million.
The beach programme is providing state-of-the-art facilities and free access to public beaches, while TEF’s upgrading of Rest Stops across the length and breadth of the island is making road travel a much more pleasant experience for Jamaicans and visitors alike.
In terms of craft development, Mr. Harrison notes that $33 million was spent on the rehabilitation of the Victoria craft market, in downtown Kingston, with plans for the retrofitting of the Harbour Street craft market in Montego Bay.
The TEF also contributes to the annual Independence celebrations, the hosting of various cultural festivals and events, and the mounting of exhibitions at the Institute of Jamaica.
“So, we do annual work to expand the culture, bring the culture to the people and secure our heritage. We strive to make projects sustainable and work in partnership with several government agencies to execute the various projects,” Mr. Harrison tells JIS News.
TEF develops and executes its projects in tandem with its sister agency, Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) and other government entities, such as the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the National Works Agency (NWA).