KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett has underscored the need for greater support of small and medium-sized tourism enterprises (SMTEs) in order to ensure the growth and sustainability of the tourism industry.
Minister Bartlett is attending the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina where he presented a policy brief on April 17 during the 8th Meeting of the Tourism Ministers of the G20 economies which had as its focus, the Future of Work – Tourism’s leading role in sustainable development: a driver for employment.
Mr. Bartlett, who received overwhelming support from colleague ministers, presented a policy paper titled: The Global Mainstreaming of Small and Medium-Sized Tourism Enterprises.
The paper seeks to bring attention to an often under-discussed element of our tourism product – the importance of micro, small and medium-sized tourism enterprises (SMTEs) to the sustenance and vitality of the sector.
Minister Bartlett is of the view that the time has come for us to seriously revisit our strategies for supporting the expansion and improvement of this critical sector of the tourism market. “We are well aware that one of the recurrent concerns among many Jamaicans is that the tourism sector does not sufficiently support sustainable development and that there is negligible reinvestment of tourism profits into the domestic economy,” Bartlett noted.
According to the Tourism Minister, the paper will seek to address the issue of leakages which are currently high. “While the benefits and positive contributions of the tourism sector are well-documented and self-evident, there is an emerging global view in many parts of the world that the tourism sector has not maximized its potential to fully contribute to sustainable development. This is due to heavy reliance on foreign imports within the sector, high rates of leakage, insufficient linkages with other segments of the economy and the belief that tourism revenues remain heavily concentrated within the country’s major hotels, especially through the expansion of the all-inclusive concept,” Minister Bartlett stressed.
Addressing the G20 Tourism Ministerial Summit, Mr. Bartlett highlighted the invaluable contribution of SMTEs to tourism development in Jamaica. “Jamaica’s tourism sector is dominated by a vast network of small and medium-sized tourism enterprises (SMTEs) including: artisans and craft vendors, attractions and tours, transportation, beauty shops and textiles, duty-free stores, restaurants and eateries, bed and breakfasts, guest houses, farmers and distributors of hotel supplies.
The vast network of SMTEs constitute the backbone of the sector, contributing significantly to the authenticity and quality of the tourism experience, enhancing destination competitiveness and contributing to enhanced brand image, the forging of positive local networks and increased productivity.” Globally, SMTEs account for most of the indirect jobs created through tourism-related activities, Minister Bartlett emphasized.
Mr. Bartlett believes that SMTEs are critical to Jamaica’s tourism growth agenda. “A closer look at our strategic vision for the growth of the tourism sector over the next five years will reveal that the growth of SMTEs will support several of our key objectives such as: strengthening linkages with other sectors of the economy, particularly the agricultural and manufacturing sectors; strengthening the benefits derived from the industry by local residents and communities; promoting broader participation by all Jamaicans; and ensuring the safety, security and sustainability of the natural and built environments”.
In order for SMTEs to maximize their full potential, the Tourism Minister acknowledged that they will need help in building capacity to meet the demands. “We have already identified the main challenges facing SMTEs such as: high level of informality, lack of commercial orientation, lack of market information and market access, insufficient access to capital for upgrading, limited customer training and low ICT diffusion. In Jamaica, the work of some of our agencies, particularly the Tourism Linkages Network has been helping SMTEs to overcome some of these challenges.”
In presenting the policy paper, Minister Bartlett used the platform to call for a more substantive focus on this sector as a means of achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He also called for increased dialogue and a deeper engagement among stakeholders to develop strategies and policies to expand and possibly mainstream SMTEs.
Additionally, the Minister made the call for a conversation between and among stakeholders to conceptualize, strategize and, to develop a blueprint that will provide guidance to SMTEs globally.
To this end, Minister Bartlett told the G20 Tourism Ministerial Summit that Jamaica is in the process of organizing a summit on SMTEs and the SDGs, the details of which will be announced in the coming weeks.
Japan will host the 9th Meeting of the Tourism Ministers of the G20 economies in Kutchan Town, Hokkaido in 2019.