Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett has made a call for investment in the tourism industry to go beyond the development of hotel rooms and other infrastructure. Minister Bartlett made the call during his presentation on the opportunities for investment in travel and tourism development projects, Infrastructure and Services at the International Tourism and Investment Conference (ITIC) in London.
The ITIC is a global platform for policymakers, tourism ministers, investors and the tourism business community. It addresses the concerns and challenges facing destinations worldwide in areas such as capacity building, infrastructure, human capital, resources, safety and security.
“The tourism industry is rapidly changing with the onset of new technologies which are changing the way we do business. To keep apace of these changes to be able to meet the growing demands of the industry, our investment focus should be on building the capacity of the suppliers in the industry who are the main drivers of tourism,” said Minister Bartlett.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to Latin America and the Caribbean rose 8% to reach $151 billion, according to UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2018. For Jamaica, FDI flows accounted for USD 888 million.
“Small tourism players, which I refer to as Small and Medium Tourism Enterprises (SMTEs) are the backbone of the industry. It is through their creativity we have been able to tap into the passion points of our visitors whether through food or entertainment, to give authentic experiences to our visitors.
Building their capacity will build their ability to be even more creative to enhance our tourism offerings,” added Minister Bartlett.
Through the Tourism Enhancement Fund, SMTEs in Jamaica have access to a J$1Billion revolving loan programme that is administered through the EXIM Bank. In total, since its inception, as at last month, September 2019, TEF has disbursed more than $868 million in loan funds to 367 borrowers.
Over the two day period, Minister Bartlett participated in two panel discussions titled, ‘Opportunities for Investment in Travel and Tourism Development Projects, Infrastructure and Services,’ and ‘Climate Change and Tourism Resilience Management.’’
Other panelists include senior officials such as Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of Tourism and Wildlife, Hon. Najib Balala EGH; Malta’s Minister of Tourism, Hon. Konrad Mizzi; and Chairman of ITIC/ former United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General, Dr. Taleb Rifai.