[KINGSTON, Jamaica] – Tourism Minister, Hon Edmund Bartlett has emphasised that Jamaica is restructuring the tourism industry to ensure that more of the earnings from the sector go to the small and medium tourism enterprises.
The Minister made the comment yesterday during a Ministerial Debate on Policies to Foster Tourism for Rural Development during the 24th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly in Madrid, Spain.
“There are inequities we know to exist in those who are the real providers of tourism experiences. And, those who are the beneficiaries of the tourism spend. Globally, 80 per cent of tourism is driven by the small and medium players, but only 20 per cent of the returns go to them. We have to rebalance that asymmetry, and I think that the policy that Jamaica has adopted in this regard will go a long way in enabling this rebalancing,” said Bartlett.
He added that research has shown that people travel to experience culture not traditionally found in the resort areas but in rural communities. Therefore the Ministry will be focusing heavily on leveraging community tourism experiences, especially those focusing on the country’s rich biodiversity.
“We have developed a programme to drive community tourism through the very rich biodiversity which Jamaica has. We have more than 30,000 species of plants which generate for us enormous nutraceutical values. It is the rural folk that provides for us the herbs and spices and the paramedical applications that are so useful for health and wellness,” he said.
Bartlett added that this would be done using three main methods. These methods include capacity development of the people to organize and set up structures. Especially ones that will allow them to benefit from corporative activities. Secondly to broaden their scope and perspective to develop more indigenous products; and thirdly to set up financial arrangements to give smaller players access to finance.
“We have put J$1 billion into our EXIM Bank that is on-lend to small and medium tourism enterprises. That funding is provided to them at some 4% interest over five years with a maximum amount of J$25 million,” he said.
“Another key aspect is marketing, and we have provided the marketing arrangements in what we call Village Tourism. Within this village structure, we are establishing artisan villages and the purpose of that is to allow the artisans to operate in situ,” he added.
The discussion was moderated by Sandra Carvao, Chief, Market Intelligence and Competitiveness, UNWTO.
Panellists included H.E. Mr Ricardo Galindo Bueno, Vice Minister of Tourism, Colombia; H.E. Dato’ Sri Nancy Shukri, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Malaysia; and Hon. Ms. Sofía Montiel de Afara, Minister – Executive Secretary, National Secretariat of Tourism (SENATUR), Paraguay.
Also on the panel were H.E. Mr Simon Zajc, State Secretary, Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, Slovenia; H.E. Mrs Maria Reyes Maroto Illera, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Spain; Hon. Dr Damas Ndumbaro, Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Tanzania; and H.E. Ms Özgül Özkan Yavuz, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Turkey.
The World Tourism Organization’s General Assembly is the body’s main gathering. Delegates from UNWTO Full and Associate Members, as well as representatives from UNWTO Affiliate Members, attend its ordinary meetings every two years.
Minister Bartlett is expected to return from Spain on December 5, 2021.