With a record of 4.31 million travelers visiting Jamaica in 2018, the island’s tourism industry is set to increase its growth rate by expanding investments in small and medium-sized tourism businesses (PYMEST), said the Tourism Minister of Jamaica, the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, CD, MP.
Minister Bartlett spoke during the “Second World Conference on Employment and Inclusive Growth: Small and Medium-sized Tourism Companies”, held on Tuesday and jointly presented by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Ministry of Tourism of Jamaica. More than 80 percent of tourism is driven by small and medium enterprises in Jamaica.
“Greater investment in national economies and their citizens will result in greater resources to provide a better visitor experience,” said Minister Bartlett. “Here in Jamaica, it is through a wide range of strategies that encompass education, specialized training and credit financing, that we can professionalize Jamaica’s tourism industry, so that more citizens can be on par with travel professionals from all over the world. world”.
More than 200 members of PYMEST met at the Montego Bay Convention Center, in Montego Bay, Jamaica, to participate in the discussions led by an impressive list of local and international speakers and panelists, which included: the Minister of Industry of Jamaica , Audley Shaw, CD, MP; Jaime Cabal, Assistant Secretary General, WTO; Néstor Méndez, Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States; and Álvaro Uribe Vélez, former president of Colombia, who delivered the opening speech of the conference.
“The sector of small and medium enterprises is the one that contributes the most to tourism in Jamaica, but only 20 percent of the income of PYMEST benefits from them,” Minister Bartlett added. “Today we have reinforced the dialogue on how to rebalance that anomaly and back good ideas with investment capital.” He said that strategies are in place to allow SMEs to understand their potential, so we move from family operators to established operators, reliable sources of sustainable income and in the long term.
Recently, the Ministry of Tourism has directed almost one billion Jamaican dollars to the Bank of Exports and Imports of the United States to grant loans at a rate of four and a half percent to the PYMEST of Jamaica, which has generated an overwhelming response part of owners of small local businesses “To date, loans have been granted for approximately 950 million Jamaican dollars to more than 70 entities, who are also making interest payments. By April, they would have paid 132 million Jamaican dollars in interest, “said Minister Bartlett.
In addition, the Organization of American States (OAS) committed a total of US $ 500,000 to increase the resistance of SMEs to natural disasters and disturbances in tourism. The project, which is being executed for two years, is financed by the Department of State of the United States and is administered by the Secretariat of Integral Development of the OAS.