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JIS News

The Board of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has approved more than $350 million for projects and programmes geared at enhancing the tourism product.
Executive Director of the TEF, Ian Neita told JIS News that money has been allocated to improve heritage sites and resorts, develop small hotels and attractions as well as enhance the overall visitor experience.
Of the sum, $100 million would be used to provide special assistance to small properties in the tourism sector.
Under the programme, a maximum of $3 million would be allocated to each small property, in the first instance, and is repayable over a 60-month period at an interest of three per cent per annum.
Mr. Neita explained that the primary purpose of the programme is to undertake product enhancement, upgrading, marketing, operational and administrative improvement of these small entities.
“A special allowance under this facility is that they (property owners) can use up to one third of the loan available for paying off of tax arrears,” the Executive Director explained, noting that this allowance would work well in getting owners to become tax compliant.
The TEF, he noted, is also facilitating a $22 million project at the Hope Botanical Gardens, which involves the upgrading of the walkways, pavilion and gardens, while another $92 million has been allocated for rehabilitation and beautification of Devon House.
To further enhance the visitor experience, the TEF is now funding a $20 million Courtesy Resort Corps programme, which has been re-introduced to provide more security for the resort areas to reduce harassment.
“In the resort areas of Negril, Ocho Rios and Montego, we are working with Port Security to place on the streets a courtesy corps of individuals who will oversee and ensure security, while providing useful information to visitors,” Mr. Neita explained.
Additionally, the TEF has approved $88 million for the introduction of a traffic management system in Montego Bay.
The scope of work will include the installation of traffic lights in the town and along the corridors and the revamping of roadways. “We are going to transform downtown Montego Bay, as there have been major congestion issues causing the tourists to face difficulties in reaching the attractions in the vicinity in a good time,” Mr. Neita pointed out.
He added that to further develop the Montego Bay resort, a $26 million recreational park would be built at the old hospital site on Gloucester Avenue.
The park, he noted “will bring to Montego Bay a green area where people can take their families and where visitors can sit and enjoy a lighter side of Jamaica.”
Another major initiative, which the TEF will assist in executing, is the Spruce Up Jamaica 2 project, which is aimed at instilling values and changing the mindset of individuals throughout the country. Mr. Neita said that the TEF financed the recently concluded Spruce Up 1 campaign at a cost of $57 million. He noted that discussions are underway to determine the amount that will be allocated to carry out phase two of the programme.
The Executive Director made an appeal to communities, the public sector and community-based organizations to create and conceptualize projects that are “environmentally friendly, sustainable and will enhance Jamaica’s overall image.”
The TEF was established in 2005 with fees collected from visitors to the island. The funds are to be used in a prudent manner and to finance projects that are intended to enhance the tourism product.